Till Death Do Us Part

CASTEISM, ECONOMIC DIVIDE AND PATRIARCHY IN THE DEATH RITUALS OF THE BENGALI HINDUS


Aritra Basu


All About Ambedkar: A Journal on Theory and Praxis, Volume 2, Number 2 | Full Text PDF

 

ABSTRACT

It is no secret that the rituals regarding life, death and marriage among the Hindus are predominantly Brahminical (and subsequently casteist) in nature. This paper analyses the Yajurvedic Shraddhyakriyabiddhi or the Hindu book of last rituals. This book, read out at almost every last ritual of a deceased Hindu, is inevitably casteist. The last rituals also include the prospect of feeding Brahmins as a part of the proceedings. This paper analyses the aforementioned text’s shlokas and the directions given in it to question the necessity of carrying such a casteist tradition forward. In addition to being grossly subversive towards the caste minorities, the Shraddhyakriyabidhi is also, unsurprisingly, patriarchal. Using the philosophy of B. R. Ambedkar and other scholars of caste studies in the contemporary age, the paper proposes a more holistic approach towards paying the last tribute to someone’s memories, without demeaning other castes. Finally, the paper refers to the caste-based discrimination prevalent in Indian society and questions the necessity of such an elaborate programme of last rituals in a post-pandemic world.


KEYWORDS: Casteism, Death rituals, Hinduism, Brahminism, Discrimination

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