May 19 – My Rite of Passage

May 19 – My Rite of Passage

My father was cremated on the day of my wedding anniversary

Is this a coincidence or is the universe trying to convey this wisdom to me.

Happiness presents itself to man, wearing the crown of sorrow on its head. He who welcomes it must also welcome sorrow.

~Swami Vivekananda

May 19

A bittersweet day.

A joyous day.

A sorrowful day.

On May 19, I got married and chose to take the last name of my husband. I felt it was important that as a family we were a unit and that my kids and I share the same last name. Even though I retained my maiden name as my middle name, my last name became my new identity.

On May 19, my father severed all his bodily ties with this earth by being cremated as per the Hindu rituals. My father who had given me my last name and hence my identity, had passed away two days prior.

This day is joyous, because it was my wedding day full of excitement and dreams of what lay ahead as I transitioned into this new phase of life.

This day is joyous because my fathers soul needed to let go of its bodily attachments and be at peace. According to Hindu belief, the cremation notifies the soul that in fact death has come and that it needs to leave the earth so that it can touch the realms of heaven.

This day is sorrowful, because starting this day I had to let go of my carefree and my me only life and start on a journey of meeting expectations and responsibilities of a married life.

This day is sorrowful, because my father left me with no one anymore to say to me “I am always with you no matter what you do”. My mother’s demise had preceded him by a year. My mother would say to me “As long as you have your family, you are never alone” whenever I would complain of not having company to go to places. But on this day, I felt completely alone.

In this world we find that all happiness is followed by misery as its shadow. Life has its shadow, death. They must go together, because they are not contradictory, not two separate existences, but different manifestations of the same unit, life and death, sorrow and happiness, good and evil.

~Swami Vivekananda

It’s as if the story of my identity is condensed in a one page book. A page that succinctly describes my rite of passage. A day of saying welcome to a new family and a day of saying final goodbye to my father. A day that in a nutshell summarizes what life is, a twin that is joy and sorrow, night and day, with one always following the other.

I remember May 19, 2005 when we got married. It was a start of a new life with a new husband. Start of a new family with a new set of traditions and rituals.

I remember May 19, 2017. Accompanying my father on his last journey to the crematorium. Standing by the pyre watching his body burn to ashes. Going home to a prayer meet with a picture of my father and mother right next to each other.

One day brought so many changes to my life. Made me a married woman. Made me an orphan.

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