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Dear Ektaji,
A very close friend of my brother is expected to die due to cancer. Respected elder family members have said to him that he cannot attend a family wedding in June if he attends his friend’s cremation ceremony. What is the truth to this belief? Please guide us.


It is an old custom with a LOT OF MEANING [hidden behind] that when someone expires, the family members are allowed to mourn for a while. In ancient times it was 49 days, then finally it got reduced to 11 and now some just do it for 3 days.

During the mourning period, the family was excused from all social obligations so that they could get a chance to be with themselves and accept the greatest Truth about their own life – DEATH!

This period was set aside to bring a realization to the family members that:

1] ’I am very attached to this body’ AND

2] ‘I am very attached to everyone related to this body’.

3] ‘Just like the related one has moved on away from his body, I will also move away from this body’.

4] ‘Therefore, I must recognize and accept the biggest Truth of life – IMPERMANENCE’.

These days of mourning were more for contemplation of the Truth rather than focusing on the loss.

If someone was stuck in the feeling of loss and could not contemplate on the Truth, then what?

Then he was helped by the other mourners to recognize the Truth of who is at loss?

It is just this BODY that has lost another relative. One BODY lost another FRIEND-BODY or FAMILY-BODY. In the past lives, you have had so many FRIEND-BODIES. In future lives, you will have so many FRIEND-BODIES. Why don’t you mourn for all of them? Why only this particular BODY?

These questions would help bring the realization of ATTACHMENT to the person who is stuck.

Why were they excused from social obligations?

Now, in order to be able to help each other during this period of mourning, the family was excused from all social obligations.  That way, their complete energy was only invested in contemplation of the Truth. It is actually like taking time off work and worldly obligations to go to a silence course, to calm the mind down and contemplate on the TRUTH. This was the real deep meaning of mourning.

How did we lose this beautiful process?

Through the ages, Man got more and more ambitious, the family became less important. Money became more important. The TRUTH lost its value totally as it did not bring money to the table. The process of mourning finally got diluted. That’s why today we need to set aside 10 days or so for a silence course every year to calm our minds and recharge our batteries. There were no such courses in olden days :).

The ones who were angry at the process dilution made up the stories that bad luck will befall on you if you entertain social obligations like attending a wedding or partying at this mourning time. This is nothing but a superstition. Superstitions are just self-fulfilling prophecies.

What should one do if torn between attending a wedding and a funeral?

Having understood the above, it is unto you to choose if you want to take a free Silence course 🙂 or attend the wedding or do both. The choice really lies with YOU.

Don’t follow the world, everyone will have different opinions and will say different things. Kuch to log kahenge, logon ka kaama hai kehna!

You follow your own inner voice of reason; then you will never feel guilty for anything that you do.

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