Cremation of the Dead – The Valluvanad Nair Community Way (1)

The world has become a ‘tiny village’ these days because of the modern scientific developments and the globalization that is happening throughout the world. Everywhere we are watching fast changes in almost all arenas of life. But certain things like the customs and manners are not changing as fast as the other outward things! It is usually seen that we have got a tendency to cling to the ‘old’ ones, which we term as the ‘traditional’, when we come to the socio-cultural aspects of the society in which we live. Here let me narrate to you about a ‘cremation ceremony’ within the ‘Valluvanad Nair Community’, to which I belong. The essence of this article is taken from my own personal experiences. When I completed the writing, it became a little bit lengthy and so finally I decided to divide it into six parts. I hope that you will get a basic idea of the ‘cremation process’ within the ‘Valluvanad Nair Community’, by going through these 6 parts and sincerely wish that somebody within this community may happen to read this, so that if there are any corrections or additions, they can add them!

These articles will describe to you the ‘cremation ceremony’ of a typical ‘Valluvanad Nair community member’. What I wanted to convey is the general way of cremating a ‘dead body’ of a ‘Valluvanadan Nair community’ member, without going into the minute details. The ‘Kerala Nair community’ is a sub-division of the ‘Hindu religion’. (In fact it is wrong to say ‘Hindu religion’. There is no such thing as a ‘Hindu religion’; it is just a ‘philosophy’ and not a structured ‘religion’. You can say ‘Hindu Philosophy’ instead of ‘Hindu religion’.) ‘Nair community’ is one among the various divisions and sub-divisions of the ‘Hindu’ cult. What I am trying to narrate to the readers is just an outline and the general ways of the cremation of a ‘Valluvanadan Nair Community member’.

Here, before going to the details of cremation process, I have to explain something about the words like ‘Kerala’, ‘Valluvanad’, and ‘Nair’. You know, India is a vast country; in fact it is just like a continent by itself not just a country with its diversified customs, manners and way of behaving! ‘Kerala’ is one among its different ‘States’ and ‘Valluvanad area’ is a small part of ‘Kerala’ and is located in the southeastern part of Kerala and the word ‘Nair’ is already explained above. You can see that even within this little state of ‘Kerala’, we have got very many different ways of looking at life and different ways of living and each one differs from the other! We, the nair population of ‘Valluvanad’ area, is very serious about life and for each and every minute happenings of ‘life’, we strictly adhere to the good old traditions! About other things I will explain later, if time and my mind agree to it! Now let us come to the details regarding the cremation of a dead man or woman and see how that is being conducted within the community.

An important point to be noted regarding ‘cremation’ within this community is that the ‘burning’ process is done only if the deceased is an adult. If the dead happens to be a child, then instead of the cremation, the method will be converted into ‘burial’. One of the main things regarding the cremation is that ‘women’ are not allowed to participate in the proceedings. They are left freely for ‘weeping’ and ‘crying’! They can later join the proceedings of the 14th and 15th day rituals which are termed as ‘Kriyas’ colloquially. The whole family is said to have a ‘defilement by death in the family’ which is described as the ‘Pula’ in the vernacular and this ‘Pula’ is considered to be there till the 15th day ‘Kriyas’ are over. During these 15 days the concerned people will not go inside the temples or attend any auspicious functions. These are all old customs and during these modern times, because of the total changes all over the world, these customs are not adhered to very strictly.

Source by Kaliyath Achutha Kumar

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