Of memories and lineages…

Tomorrow is Bhadrapada Amavasya, a day when one remembers one’s ancestors and performs pujas for them.

The following day is the start of Navrātri.

Why do we remember our ancestors? Now that you think of it, how many of us remember our great-grandparents? Chances are that we did not even get a chance to see them. Did we know them? Not as an odd story here and there, but truly know them?

How about your great-great grandparents? You may not even know their names. In four generations, you are forgotten. And don’t think having a Facebook account will make it any easier. You will just have more photos, and a name, but little else. If you care to look it up that is.

How surreal this seems. Your parents may have known so much about their parents, and their parents about theirs, but skip a generation and this “knowing” decreases dramatically. Almost inversely in proportion to the number of generations between the parent and the progeny. So many things we do to stay in the minds of people when we are gone, and it barely survives 2-3 decades.

All that learning, all those rich pieces of information, those thoughts and ideas, emotions – all gone soon enough.

Bhadrapada Amavasya is about praying for your ancestors. There are many rituals associated with this day, and those who believe in them should follow them. But the day is also about remembering your ancestors. Who they were, how they lived, what they left behind for their lineage. I think one should also reflect on this aspect of the holy day – not just blindly follow a few rituals and get over with it.

Try to construct a family tree. Speak to your grandparents, and ask them about their grandparents. Even a name is enough. Repeat their names, write them down in your family tree, and take a look at it. They existed some years back, and you are in a way, a small reflection of them. Pray to them – that when it is your time to leave, you make your contributions to this lineage just like they did…

And once you are done with it, look ahead. The next day is the beginning of Navrāti, and the beginning of the three days of destruction – of your ego, your bad habits, your weaknesses.

A lot to keep us busy this season…see you tomorrow!