Thursday, July 27, 2006

Bummer of a Tamil class

Date: Saturday, July 15, 2006 11:02
Topic: bummer of a tamil class

i finally reconnoitered with my tamil teacher after a long hiatus.  Tamil is a language spoken in the state of Tamil Nadu and much of south India.  I decided to learn tamil because my maids speak tamil and i want to be able to directly converse with them.  Also, it is very similar to Malayam (the language spoken in the state of Kerala, which is where my husband’s family is from.)

Sadly, one of her aunties passed away that very morning.  I asked why she was sitting there with me when her thoughts are probably in Kancheepuram (where her auntie lived).  She told me it would take too long to get there and come back, and she didn’t want to miss work since she just started a new job.  Instead, she explained to me all the rituals and customs surrounding death in Tamil Nadu.  

The eldest son or child is the primary person responsible for the deceased’s funeral arrangements.  They perform all the pujas (prayers), wash the body, and light the funeral pyre.  The family cannot partake in any celebrations for one year after the date of death (no weddings, no festivals).  During that one year, the family is supposed to offer prasad (food offering to the gods) not to the gods, but to the dead person’s soul, and the prasad should first be fed to crows before being offered to anyone else.  It is believed that crows carry the souls of the dead to the next life — I think she was saying that you want to be good to crows because they will be part of the team reassigning your dearly departed’s soul.  


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