Memorial Service

In Gujarat, the word Besna or Besnu means getting together for the memorial service of a person who has recently died. As a rule, announcements of a death appear in newspapers, along with a passport size photograph of the deceased. Besna, also means to sit down, but the larger connotation of the word Besnu is with death. This is when people are invited to meet the grieving family for a few hours, a day after the funeral. Normally, for the Besna ceremony mourners dress in white, as the Besna ceremony, either inside or outside the house is in white, where mattresses covered with white sheets are spread on the floor or chairs are kept aside for the aged. Except for family members, we do not stay for more than five to ten minutes, as we express our condolences by offering flowers at the photograph, then offer condolences to the family with folded hands, stay for a while; and leave in silence.

During the last few years, I have never been to a Besna, as I prefer to meet the family on some other day or write a letter expressing my grief.

But, this week, I went to a Besna, when a dear friend’s mother died and I received a sms saying, ”Our beloved mother left for her heavenly abode  on…. the Besna is arranged on…at…from 4 to 6 p.m. So, I decided to go for the Besna and what I saw was totally different from what I had known in the past. It was in a prayer hall inside a temple, but instead of silence, there was a bhajan group; singing old Gujarati songs, like,”…after all we are toys of ash…” With such songs, the entire atmosphere was charged with emotion and it was with great difficulty that I could control my tears…

Courtesy : Speaking Tree

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