I’ve twice written here about Pashchimavaahini – that part of the river Kaveri near Seringapatnam where it flows west. I had once written about it immediately following my first visit there. And I had written about it once again last year when I had disccussed the economics of the place. So over the weekeend I had to go there again, for the second time in two and a half years. In order to do the ritual that is associated with the place – which is to immerse ashes of the dead.
A few pertinent observations from the trip:
- The place has lost the economics of the food. They probably didn’t want “casual travelers” to come and eat there, or maybe they overestimated their own monopoly power, but the lunch is priced at Rs 70 now. Quality has also dropped – sambar was watery and vada not fried properly. (I’d recommend you to read the death markets post I’ve linked to above before reading on).
- To put this pricing in perspective, I must mention Kamat Upachar, a restaurant between Channapatna and Maddur. They have a breakfast buffet for the same price! And the buffet includes a choice of juices, bread, idli, vada and dosa, and you can eat as much as you want.
- This time the shastri we engaged was peaceful. We included an “all-inclusive” price and told him we’ll give only small change as daana
- I told the shastri to do the minimum possible rituals and told him that I’m doing these things becasue they “need to be done” and not due to some special religious intent. He agreed and kept his word, as he quickly took me through the most basic rituals.
- When I was away and in the river taking bath, the shastri told one of my uncles that I’m the types that would’ve dunked ashes online if that were an option.
- I had made it clear to my relatives that I find most of the post-death rituals extremely depressing and so I didn’t wnat to engage in anything beyond the most basic stuff. This meant that at the end of yesterday’s rituals I’d to discard my procedural “tools”. The “paatrams” were given as a gift to the shaastri. The sacred stone was thrown backward in the river. And when I was bathing after the rituals, I let the river wash away the highly starched procedural dhoti
Once that was done, I uttered a silent apology to the river for polluting it
- Having been through all this once before, I knew what to expect and so was completely in control of the situation. This helped me manage my relatives better and have my way.
- Having my way meant occupying the relatively comfortable front seat in the sumo while my senior citizen uncles struggled in the back due to lack of leg space. “This is even worse than an aircraft”, a former-HAL-employed granduncle told the driver
- To help ease the situation for myself and distract myself, I live-tweeted the journey. And to further distract myself, I tried to tweet like Tharoor.
- There was a fair bit of pollution involved in the ceremonies. A fair bit of plastic was used, and all got dunked into the river. Extremely sad stuff but I couldn’t really do anything.
- I wonder why the urn of ashes is thrown backwards into the river. You stand on some rocks facing away and then chuck the thing backwards. I wonder what the significance of this is.
- Looking at the general crowd there, I was wondering if death is a profitable business.