The Hindu Funeral Home
A few years ago, my friend’s father, an uncle at the temple I attend, passed away. It was very sudden and heartbreaking. He was always so social and joyful, I couldn’t imagine temple without his voice. I couldn’t do anything due to distance. I prayed for my friend and her family alone in my dorm room. It was a very strange moment when I saw his obituary online. It was on a website called "The Hindu Funeral Home." I didn’t know this existed until that moment. It was freaky seeing a business catered towards Hindu death in the U.S. They would cremate bodies in the most traditional way possible. There was even a way to fly the bodies to India if wanted. On that website, I discovered my other friend’s mom’s obituary. She had passed a few weeks earlier after being sick for a long time. I suddenly imagined that all my friends’ parents from my hometown may end up on this website. My own parents perhaps.
This piece is supposed to connect the body and soul of someone who has passed to their first home. The bottom of the piece features a figure lying on a funeral pyre. There is fire/flowers surrounding the pyre to celebrate and say goodbye to the body. The soul however travels far. It crosses a rapid river into lush farms and dead ones. It goes to small villages with strong connections. I based the farmland off of where my mom grew up, where my grandfather worked. The positions of the squares to represent cots are based on maps of my temple and my friend’s neighborhood. I wanted to connect everything. I always felt as though dying here instead of in India for those who were born there would be upsetting. Almost like they’re missing out on a happy ending. Making this piece changed my mind. My grandfather died in his bed surrounded by his kids. My friend’s dad suddenly passed in his townhouse in Somerset, New Jersey. I believe either way the soul will travel where it pleases. We make new homes throughout our lives. I have stopped assuming that someone’s original home is the most special or significant. Anywhere and anytime can be special. That’s how my friend’s dad lived and died.