A father’s shrāddha instructions: A consolation

NOW, you should prepare by obtaining the following: 

I.  For giving to a priest:

  1. 1 pound rice, ½ pound toor dal, ½ cup red chilies, ¼ cup coriander seeds 
  2. 1 plantain; ¼ pound okra if available; 1 chayote squash if available; ½ pound green beans; 2 zucchinis
  3. $50 Cash

II.  For performing the ritual: 

  1. Your mother’s photograph 
  2. ¼ cup rice, ¼ cup “black sesame seed” (black mustard if you can’t get sesame seed), 1 teaspoon of turmeric, 1 teaspoon of kumkum, 2 flowers, 2 bananas, a pitcher of water, a glass, a teaspoon, a vessel
  3. A proper attitude and a calm mind 

THEN, you should perform the shrāddha: 

     Sieve these things
     with old hymns 
     sons must sing, 
     fathers sung.    

     Join the voices, 
     sound and meter, 
     echoing through 
     earth and ether. 

     Memory is your mother now,  
     speak to her, she’ll show you how. 
     Honor all the things I taught you  
     and the people you belong to. 

     When you journey to the crossing,  
     she will gather these cast-off things.  
     Take those hidden ghosts of being, 
     knit them close, a raft of meanings. 

NOW, you have finished. Take the piṇḍa and leave them outside:  for the birds.


Photo by Ravi Roshan from Pexels

Surendriya Rao

Surendriya Rao is a lawyer and poet living in Brooklyn, NY and writes under a pen name. His work has previously appeared in Rattle (Poet's Respond), Vayavya, and The Bombay Literary Magazine.