In the Hindu way of life we don’t have tombstones or epitaphs. Our bodies are cremated and the next morning the ashes are immersed in the nearest waterbody and that will meet the sea and we return to nothing–exactly where we came from.

On the tenth day or thirteenth day, the priest writes out a piece of paper–a kind of death record–it states the day a person dies according to the Indian calendar which does not have fixed days. The days are calculated according to the lunar cycle and it is the bright fortnight–Shukla Paksha after the New Moon (waxing phase) or dark fortnight after the Full Moon, Krishna Paksha (waning phase).

In all our ceremonies–birth, confirmation, wedding, pujas and death the lineage of the person involved is always cited going back to three generations. I suppose it is the people in living memory who are remembered. So I am the daughter, the grand daughter and great grand daughter of somebody. But once I am married my place is in the kierarchy of my husband’s lineage. When I die my husband’s great grandmother will be taken off the list and said to have passed on from the Pitr lok (ancestor’s world) to merge with the eternal concept of bliss. The other two before me, my mother-in-law and hers will move up one place and with my name, my son will cite us three women in all ceremonies.

Going back to the tenth day or thirteenth day after my death, the family priest will read out my ‘story’. This will be a quick recap of who I was, whose daughter, wife and mother and what I did with my life! This may be called an epitaph. Needless to say it will be a totally whitewashed story as it will be material given by husband/son/daughter.who are not going to wash dirty linen in public, I suppose….or at least hope!

Left to me it would read

‘Woman of many activities! Master of none. She had many a finger in lots of pies and never really cooked them ‘done’!”

Welcome to the Friday Loose Bloggers Consortium where AnuAshokConrad,DeliriousGaelikaa,  GrannymarMagpie11PaulMaria the Silver FoxRummuser Will Knott, Shackman and I write on the same topic. Please do visit the linked blogs to get  different flavours of the same topic.

About padmum

You could call me Dame Quixote! I tilt at windmills. I have an opinion on most matters. What I don't have, my husband Raju has in plenty. Writer and story teller, columnist and contributer of articles, blogs, poems, travelogues and essays to Chennai newspapers, national magazines and websites, I review and edit books for publishers and have specialized as a Culinary Editor and contributed content, edited and collaborated on Cookbooks. My other major interest used to be acting on Tamil and English stage, Indian cinema and TV. I am a wordsmith, a voracious reader, crossword buff and write about India's heritage, culture and traditions. I am interested in Vedanta nowadays. I am now an Armchair traveller/opinionator/busybody!
This entry was posted in Friday Three On One blog, Heritage, Uncategorized, Women. Bookmark the permalink.

11 Responses to Epitaph’s

  1. Maria says:

    Padmini, I love your blog because I learn so much about Indian life. I’ve lived here for eighteen years and I’m only beginning to get it now.


  2. Rummuser says:

    An absolutely fitting epitaph it will be too.


  3. Grannymar says:

    Padmini, I like your style:- ‘Woman of many activities! Master of none. She had many a finger in lots of pies and never really cooked them ‘done’!”

    I am not so comfortable with the idea of your own identity being lost to that of your husband’s family. In my book if a mother is to be included it should be your birth mother, who carried and gave birth to you, then cared for you in the important years of development.


  4. vijju says:

    good one


  5. Delirious says:

    Ahh….your epitaph is much for fitting for me than the one my kids would choose. I always have a million projects started, but very few finished. 🙂


    • padmum says:

      Delirious! I tried leaving a comment in your blog..but that catchme rejected my reading of its script! I said we seem to be soulmates. I too have been ill all my life and am fighting off knee surgery. I think I would prefer a wheelchair!

      This comment of yours only reiterates our similarity. Go forth and do! Do not worry if it is left incomplete!.


  6. N.Srivatsa says:

    We are never quite done, are we! And, yet, we seem to get quite some done. You have done some but have many more Fridays to go ere an epitaph.


  7. blackwatertown says:

    I like the idea of referencing previous generations – though, like Grannymar, I’d stick to the actual predecessors – not someone else’s.


  8. You are a woman after my own heart. Thank you for an insight into life and death in India. The concept of dropping people out of the lineage makes total sense. When we try to pass the memories and names on to the younger generations, there is no real connection for them.


  9. Maxi says:

    Another lesson in Indian culture. It’s so very different from American, Last year when my husband passed away, he was cremated and I had a memorial service.

    Great words for your epitaph, Padmini.
    Blessings ~ Maxi


  10. Val says:

    It makes more sense to me for the line of reference or whatever one wants to call it to link to ones own bloodline – but then what of families whose more recent ancestors have been forgotten for some other reason… so maybe there is some sense in this. It’s a different culture altogether from the one I come from (ancestry-wise) and the one I was brought up in. Our traditions and cultures all work perfectly for their own, I’m sure.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s