You might think I am some kind of weirdo to write about a funeral again in the New Year. But I found this funeral rather unusual and interesting and decided to share it with readers.
Remember the film, Four Weddings and a Funeral, starring Hugh Grant? Although what I saw was not anywhere close to it, it reminded me of the film.
While a funeral was taking place at my cousin’s house, a wedding was going on across the road in a church.
A mournful ceremony in one place but a joyous celebration in the other. How could sorrow and happiness be juxtaposed, I thought.
But that was not all. While my cousin Pauline was a Christian, her husband Sunny was a staunch Hindu.
When they married, I expected Sunny to forsake his religion and convert to Christianity. But he did not. Like his father-in-law who never converted, he remained a Hindu to his dying day.
While on my way to the funeral I wondered what kind of funeral it would be.
Would my cousin allow a Hindu ceremony to take place at her house? But I was surprised. She respected her late husband’s wishes and sent him off with a full Hindu ceremony.
What touched me even more was seeing his two daughters performing the Hindu rituals for their father. Apparently, he was a wonderful father and a devoted husband who had never said a bad word to his wife all their married life.
Marriages across the religious and cultural divide usually tend to be turbulent and problematic, especially when both partners are headstrong, uncompromising and cling to their religious beliefs.
But there are many instances where, for the sake of peace and harmony and the children, one partner relinquishes his/her religious beliefs and becomes the silent partner.
This is especially true when a Hindu marries a Christian or a Muslim.
Without exception, the meaker Hindu partner gets swallowed up by the dominant Christian or Muslim partner.
Hindus make tantalising meals for Christians. But in the case of Sunny, he did not become an easy prey for Christianity.
He couldn’t have his god lamp in the main building but instead did his prayers in a room in his garage. He must have been under considerable pressure to convert but remained a committed Hindu to the very end.
Not so in the case of my father, who was a staunch Hindu. I remember him after a few drinks singing in bed that my mother loved Jesus more than him.
He could not accept that my mother had converted to Christianity. But when he died, the dominant Christian members in my family did not respect his religious views. They gave him a Christian burial.
The marriage of Sunny and Pauline was a wonderful example of two people with divergent religious beliefs coming together and living in peace and harmony.
If only we could all do that, the world would be a better place for all of us.
* Thyagaraj Markandan, Kloof.
** The views expressed here are not necessarily those of Independent Media.
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