Ashes to Water
I love India. I will relish chanting on my meditational beads at Juhu Beach later this month, a residential spot in Mumbai when I will attend retreat sessions. There along the Arabian Sea as in the two previous years I will rise at 2 AM and hit that beach by 2:20 for a hard walk, barefoot on sand, one hour one direction and then turnback for the return. I’m usually there early enough to see the clean-up crew with tractor and hitched wagon picking up the debris created by the public from the day past.
Quite common is the usual beach type of trash but then you have that ritual waste material – coconut husks, flowers and plastic bags – remains of rites. This is one side of India that is less attractive.
My walk through Guyana opened my eyes in the same way. Along its north shore I saw the same litter. Why should religious functions entail disposing of each material in our benevolent bodies of water? The two week walk along Guyana’s coast revealed to me a lot about neglect but I will admit that most of the debris was secular material (not religiously related). Empty plastic water bottles galore.
Don’t get me wrong, I do love Guyana also. I came upon an article in the paper regarding the Hindu community in Canada setting their standard for the releasing of ashes for last rite ceremonies into nature’s water. This has been an issue that concerns ecologically minded people because sometimes plastic flowers and other undesirables are also thrown in. The ashes may be less of an issue. Currently one of the larges lakes in the world, Lake Ontario, along with connecting rivers and creeks, is receiving some of those remnants.
I’m personally happy to know, from the article that a Pandit, Mr. Roopnath Sharma with the Canadian Hindu Federation is establishing guidelines to making the necessary events ecologically friendly and in seeking a location that government will agree to for the sacred discharge from mourners. This is progressive. Om tat sat!