He said, we will die early and will find a place in hell, if we don’t pay him the required charges for his pooja ceremony. He was demanding a sum of Rs. Five thousand and one for the “asthi visarjan pooja”. This made me angry. I requested the pundit to stop any further pooja. I clearly said, that the way he is speaking, definitely made us fear that he might push us into the river Ganges. My readers! Let me clarify that we were at the ‘sangam’ of the river Ganges and Yamuna. We had gone there to perform the last rites of our close friend. My friend’s brother was there to perform the last rites. He had come from abroad to perform his duties. The rituals we were to perform were to submit the last remains of the departed soul into the holy river Ganges.
When the situation came to a deadlock, the boatman came for the negotiations. He wanted to settle the matter and offered to finalise the things in half the amount initially demanded by the pundit. Since I had accompanied my friend’s brother for these last rituals, it was my duty to get the things done smoothly. I was adamant on paying rupees five hundred, the amount that I had already told the boatman, before he started to sail us mid-way into the Ganges. Anyhow with the final intervention of my departed friend’s brother, the matter settled at Rs. one thousand and one hundred. The pooja started. It was a very brief pooja. The priest did not even know how to recite the mantras properly. There was no point arguing further. Now, we ourselves wanted this pooja to be over as soon as possible. After the pooja, the boatman took us to the ‘sangam stream’ where the river Ganges meets the river Yamuna. We submitted the bag containing the last remains of the departed soul.
We returned back with a heavy hearts. The heaviness this time was probably more due to the arguments we had with the pundit. This problem of negotiations at such moments should definitely find some solution. The so called keepers of the religion in our society need to come forward and issue clear instructions, so that such episodes do not happen again and again. If this keeps happening, the traditions will lose their meaning.
These things are sensitive. I request my readers to consolidate their thoughts a bit and react only after a delay.