Hindu’s believe in reincarnation. We are told, that the soul of the deceased are re-incarnated in another life. Maybe once, maybe several times, until it completes its karma, until its pays back its cosmic debt to the universe. Within a calendar year, we are told that the family of the deceased have to perform rituals to remember the soul and nudge the soul to ‘move on’.
Shital, my lovely daughter in law passed away last year. A vibrant, beautiful young woman of 33, had danced into our lives eight years earlier and had captured my sons heart. Almond eyes, jet black hair and an engaging smile , she was always a free soul and loved sufi whirling and yoga. Maybe it was her karma to have two sons quickly within a year of each other and she was a busy, content, happy person. Shortly after a ‘mystic’ yoga retreat that she had attended in one of the jungle resorts of South India she fell ill. She was hospitalized, and within 5 days of high fever she unexpectedly breathed her last. We were told, it may have been a rare mosquito bite that had caused the high fever and septicemia. We will never know.
Shitals parents told us to assemble at the Banganga tank in Mumbai not very far away from Malabar Hill, a posh locality of Mumbai. We drove there through the traffic and crowded streets of Mumbai. My two darling grandsons of six and four were in my car. They had been told that we were going for ‘Mamas puja’ and they were well behaved clutching on to their spider man and Benton toys. Occasional questions asked were “How does Mama know that we are doing prayers for her?” and then from the younger one “ Can she see us Granny?” and the older one again “ Will she come back to us soon?”
Suddenly we took a right, off the main road close to the entrance gate. We were amazed at the sight in front of us ! A beautiful large tank of green, still water with just a slight ripple that passed through with the breeze. Concrete steps all around and temples around its perimeter. At short distances from each other, groups were huddled around waiting for the Hindu priest to perform rituals on their behalf. We were suddenly transposed out of our lives in Mumbai city to this historical haven. We had been told of this beautiful water body in the heart of the city but had never been there before and were amazed and surprised to see this little oasis in the midst of the desert of one of the most populated cities in the world!
We performed our rituals and the children fed the crows, the ducks, the geese and even the fish in the water tank. We had a busy morning and with the satisfaction that we had completed the rituals as we were told to do, we returned to our busy lives!