Somehow we have travelled a long way from mourning the death of our loved ones to converting them into social gatherings. To start with, the few hours after the death of one’s relatives is followed by the arrival of the private caterers bringing carpets, chairs and the shamianas that ironically are the same for the weddings or the funerals. It is after a while when the gloomy faces start to appear at ones house when it is dawned on the neighbours that it is not some late night party, but actually the departure of some soul from this earth.
Once these preliminaries have been sorted out, the next step involves the actual making of the gloomy face and entering the deceased home by showing ones deepest feelings of pain and shock over this tragic loss. After sitting for a while holding the Holy Quran, the eyes start searching for other acquaintances, who have come to grace the “occasion”. Once spotted, the Holy Quran is very respectfully placed back to the place from where it was picked up to get into a conversation with friends with welcoming words: “Long time no see.”
Thank God, this death has given us the opportunity to meet each other after a long time. The social talks continue till the time the dead body is picked up for the funeral prayers and the subsequent burial. Once the Janaza is taken away, the next destination is to rush to the market for selecting the right dress for the Qul and the subsequent appointment at the beauty parlour.
At the graveyard, the situation is not much different for as soon as the body is lowered in the grave, people start searching for the long lost friends that is followed by the exchange of visiting cards and the mobile numbers. Future meetings, lunch or dinner functions are finalised in between the burial and the final dua. The size of the funeral is discussed to either appreciate or throw dirt on the departing soul by judging his conduct on earth. Somehow the gloomy faces immediately are transformed into the smiling ones, followed by a drive back home listening to the songs.
This vulgarity of cosmetics reaches its zenith in the form of Qul, Chaleeswan and then the Barsi when the same souls get together to “celebrate” the occasion wearing new designer clothes and the matching jewellery. This is followed by serving of buffet, the quality of which is judged, analysed and the final decision taken to attend any future similar eventualities or otherwise.
Religious injunctions are conveniently replaced by monetary cultural excuses. In all this cosmetic display of human behaviour, the only missing part is the actual prayers that will ultimately be of any use to the deceased. Somehow we seem to have lost it all, for in the end it all leads to human insensitivity, nakedness and its moral bankruptcy.
The writer is a PhD in Information Technology, alumni of King’s College London and a social activist. He is life member of the Pakistan Engineering Council and senior international editor for IT Insight Magazine. He has authored two books titled Understanding Telecommunications and Living In The Grave and several research papers.