My mother was religious but rest of my family, not one bit. While she prayed for us in the mandir for couple of hours every day, the rest of us never believed in idol worship or any kind of rituals. And probably that’s why the decision of body donation was slightly more acceptable to all of us. We didn’t do any chautha or taervi but decided to hold a prayer meeting instead on the weekend. My Chachaji suggested that we do it at the Gurudwara close to my father’s house. Despite my mother being quite a “hindu”, we went ahead with it. And only when you experience something like this do you really understand the true meaning of “Sewa”.
From the beginning, it seemed as if there was a deep understanding of life that they operated with, almost like a close friend who you depend on to get things done when your mind isn’t capable of making rational decisions. They seemed to understand the very fundamental notion of grief and didn’t approach us even once for anything, let alone for money even for the kirtan. In fact, they served the 200-odd people who came with so much warmth and the only things they asked from us was to get the biscuits and the ingredients for tea. The only thing you can do is donate but even that not because anyone asked you but because by the end of it that’s what feels right.
Given the situation, I was too muddled to remember anything but something stayed and connected with me deeply. I kept pondering what it was that moved me so and understood a few weeks later that it wasn’t the acts themselves that won my respect but the pure and simple selflessness behind it. Here we are, in our daily lives, practicing (more like talking about over fancy dinners) concepts such as mindfulness, and greater good and paying it forward and so many other fancy terms, whereas, the Sewadars at the Gurudwara go and serve tea to the people standing in line in the ATM and bank withdrawal queues (during the initial demonetisation days). And more importantly, with so much contentment.
What is even more heartwarming, is the experience is the same everywhere. I connected these dots when I thought about my visit to the Gurudwara in both Philippines and Ladakh. I didn’t know what it was then but the calm at both places washed me over and quieted my mind like no other place could. I always wondered what made both Sikhs and Hindus such fervent believers of Guru Nanak Ji and have finally understood that it isn’t the religion but the respect with which it is practiced that has converted millions and now me to a belief system that is amongst the purest in the world. And may be it also has to do with the fact that my mom’s death has changed some of my fundamental beliefs. I’m questioning less and accepting more.
All pics courtesy Aman Chotani (from a shoot he done a couple of years back).