The eleventh day

Fresh from the Pooja

We travelled to the 11th day pooja. Held by Manjula’s brother in the village maybe four hours drive away

I’ve already relayed some of the sensitivities when we met to plan this Pooja. Here. They’ve shifted the day so our closest Indian friends Tanuja, Satish and Vasanth aren’t able to come, bugger. To support me I do however have Tom and Amy, and two other friends Steven (thanks for the photos) from Australia and Imran, who was going to prove to be a godsend, as he’s the only one to really understand and be able to interpret!

The Pooja or ritualistic prayer is mostly a request. The 11th day Pooja is part of the process of helping Manjula’s spirit be released from her body and the here and now. This helps her break away and start her new life in a new form or maybe hang around a bit!

As we arrive the cooking of curries (plenty of meat) and rolling of the Ragi balls is being completed.

We’re ready to rebuff any attempt to try hang on to her jewellery. Within minutes they’re asking for it to be left here until the morning. As agreed I’ll be taking it with me immediately after the Pooja.

Raju, Manjula’s brother is having his head shaved. I’d floated the idea of me being shaved but this was dismissed out of hand by my Hindu advisors Tanu, Satish and Vasanth.

Together with anyone else wishing to express an opinion, there was a clear consensus. It would be toooo complicated. A sort of Indian open house has spoken. (Everyone has an opinion about everything, of course)

Manjula’s photo was the centrepiece she was garlanded and then surrounded by offerings. Of things she liked, maybe.

I placed my garland, her Mangal

Sutra and ankle chains on her photo.

We took it in turns to do twirls with the incense and fire.

It’s obviously an important ritual for a Hindu. It’s also an essential part of bringing communities together.

As one of our party said. There were two people there with tearful red eyes. Manjulas cousin also called Manjula who you can see in a couple of photos here and her brother, Raju. Otherwise it seemed like Manjula was just a quiet voice almost incidental to the whole thing.

On reflection

We now have a clear view of what would have been Manjula’s life if we hadn’t met and fell in love.

She was brought up in the Bamboo bazar slum in Mysore so not a village but most definitely this level of poverty

But it’s not the living conditions or the poverty that seems the greatest challenge but the harshness of some of the people. the sister-in-laws branch of the family are astonishingly direct and focussed on money, Manjula doesn’t really seem to figure

It was time to go

Relatives were asking for Imran’s cell no in case they needed help ie money and so they could make a call if anyone was in hospital or otherwise needed help.

We’ve done our bit and it’s time to go and now realise how hard it was for Manjula and how she’d escaped this life and blossomed in her new one from nine years ago.

6 thoughts on “The eleventh day

    • Just welcomed our first guest since Manjula died exactly two weeks ago. I mentioned nothing although there is her garlanded photo here. She saw the book of photos of our wedding and starting leafing through it. A great opportunity to talk about Manjula and that the BnB would continue as she would have wanted but how it would change reflecting the open house Manjula has created. Lovely. S x

  1. Dear Stephen, I think that she would say “Mysore BnB must go on”. We have wonderful memories of our stay in Mysore, of her kindness, of her excellent “cuisine”, her marvellous smile all the time.. We felt like home. Life did not spare her at first, but these 9 years in your company made her happy. Her spirit will continue to stay there and in your heart. Warmest regards from France, Christine.

    • Thank you Christine, that’s lovely and very thoughtful. We’re just back from sponsoring lunch at an aged persons home. In memory of Manjula is was something she’d wanted to do for her mother. It’s early days yet but I’m trying to create something where previous guests can come and be part of things here! Best wishes, Stephen

  2. A tough day indeed. Your Indian life learning curve continues in the most painful way. So pleased you had wonderful support and love from your mates. Sounds like love has been pushed out of the lives of Manjula’s family through the grind that extreme poverty brings. Very sad. Thank goodness she met you. X

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