Gaya—dealing with the Dead


Hindus believe that this human body is just a cover the Soul requires to fit in, so that it can play in the act of life. After a person dies, the Soul becomes free and comes out of its confinement to get dissolved in eternity. But the process of the Soul’s attaining freedom is not easy, as sometimes it gets too attached to its temporary cover and refuses to leave it. The dusty town of Gaya—in Bihar—is believed to be the place where one can appease the Soul and make it leave a dead. The river Falgu there is usually all sand and no water and the keen of the person who departed—helped by a priest—digs out a hole on sand. Accompanied by the priest’s oration of Holy Scripture grey balls of burley are then lowered into that hole. Hindus believe that the evil agent responsible for the Soul’s captivity accepts the balls and lets the Soul go. Near on a hill-top there is a big monolith known as ‘Pretshila’. Souls of those who died an accidental and violent death are believed to have been kept bondage inside it. Keens of that unfortunate departed apply burley powder on that monolith to appease it and make it free the Soul. They then sit round that stone and, collectively, laugh their hearts out—clapping all the while raising arms towards the sky—to frighten any evil spirit that may bar the Soul from getting free.