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A rare condolence

Statesman News Service |

Some traditions may appear strange but there is often a purpose behind them. Moreover, traditions, whether in joy or grief, often have a similar pattern across several cultures across the world. Take, for instance, memorial services following the death of a kin. They are remarkably alike both in form and purpose, a colleague said, after attending a service for a Russian envoy.

A condolence meeting to pay homage and to pray for the departed soul of Sergey G Dychev, former head of the Information Department of the Russian Embassy and Representative Office of “Rossiya Segodnya” in India, was held after the 40th day of his death at its office in Delhi. Dychev died suddenly on 12 October, at the age of 67 in Moscow, where he had gone to receive an award from Russian President’s Office.

His wife Olga Dycheva and daughter Anna Dycheva-Smirnova were there to receive the guests personally. Visitors had a word of praise for the “friendly and lovable” Dychev before writing in the condolence book and placing bouquets in front of his portrait.

The last sentence in the invite, “In accordance with the Russian tradition, the Condolence meeting will be followed by Cocktail Dinner,” was what caught the attention of many invitees, who said in many parts of India, only non-vegetarian meals are served on such occasions. For instance, there is a tribe in Tamil Nadu, that celebrates the death of their dear ones with dancing and merry making.

The Russians, mostly Orthodox Christians, according to tradition, on this day invite those who wish to remember the departed, visiting the grave, the church and having a memorial meal at the house. In some traditions, all night vigils with intense prayers are held on the night before the ninth and 40th day. The motif of this day is: “We said good bye to you, no longer come to us, we will come to you.” After this day, the living no longer grieve over the departed and move on with their lives. All funeral wreaths are also removed from the grave.

Whom to trust?

Migrant population from the rural area is a common sight in most Indian cities, big and small. There is a bewildered look about them as they try to adjust to a world that is radically different from theirs. With most of them moving to the cities in search of employment, the innocent villagers are unaware of the perils of city life. A colleague narrated how he encountered one such family near the Tibetan Market, near the Inter-State Bus Terminal (ISBT). He was approached by the family, who asked for help. Asked about their plight, they said they belonged to Yavatmal in Maharashtra and had come to the city in search of a living. They said they had been cheated by a contractor, on whose assurance they sold all their belongings to collect enough money to bear their travel expenses and also for a short stay in the Capital. When our colleague advised them to go to the nearby police station and lodge a complaint against the contractor, they said the police was asking for documents to identify the contractor, which they didn’t have. Perplexed and worried at their situation, our colleague gave them a small sum of money to tide over their immediate needs and asked them to go to Maharashtra Sadan for help. While we are greatly dependent on the rural folk for a lot of unskilled labour, it is really sad to see them being cheated. Meanwhile, the authorities appear to simply turn a blind eye to their woes.

Innovative begging

Begging is one of the most serious social issues in our country. The menace, as we can put it, has been growing significantly over the years and continues to rise. The beggars are to be found almost everywhere but traffic crossings, outside religious places and pavements are their regular places. And they resort to some ingenious means to seek alms. A colleague narrated one such interesting incident that was both comical and quite astounding. In today’s era, where utmost importance is given to technology, innovation and creativity, beggars are not behind, she said narrating how a young lad drove a cycle cart with his grandmother lying in it. A recorded message played in the background ~ yes, a pre-recorded message for begging ~ that went: “Hum gareeb hain. Hume paiso ki zarurat hai aur kuch khane ko bhi nahi hai. Aap jitna dena chahe ~ 10, 20, 50 rupya de dein! (We are poor. We need money and have nothing to eat too. Please give us anything ~ Rs 10 or Rs 20 or Rs 50 or anything you wish to).” Beggars may be poor and needy but some innovations aren’t that bad after all!

Tailpiece

A veteran politician described lawyers-turned-politicians as not just donning different hats but different coats ~ black coat to the courts and khadi kurta-waistcoat to Parliament!