Shortly before, in fact only around a week before arriving here in India, the family we have been living with lost a husband, father, and grandfather. Ever since we have stayed here we have had the pleasure to meet some members of the tibetan family who have emigrated overseas. A buddhist monk who lives in Nepal, A US Airforceman, A lady living in Queens, New York, and the sister who has the status of ‘Lady’ (When married to a Sir (MBE/OBE) in England. Including the family of 5 that live in the building we have been able to share this time with this host of people who came for the 40 day funeral ritual that buddhism requires.
After someone dies in Buddhism, there follows 40 days of Puja (prayer) using beads, lighting candles, incense, chanting, bashing cymbals, drumming and deep groans, all aimed at adding positive karma or good works to the person allowing them to re-incarnate into a better life.
Because of this belief in re-incarnation, members of the buddhist religion including the family we are staying with, do not allow each other to grieve or be sad because re-incarnation is considered a better thing than to have stayed alive, one more step towards enlightenment.
Observing this belief system, especially during a time where it had such real implications, was difficult for us. At different times we would have unexpected but divinely planned run-ins to different family members in quiet areas of the large house. We were able to share how we believe each life is precious, and how is was appropriate to feel the loss and pain. 3 seperate times, Rachel and I were able to comfort a member of the family as they were given the space to express their pain and loss in tears.
At the end of the Puja time of 40 days, a feast is prepared and a stocking of food gifts are prepared for everyone who knew the person who has died. Our family had 300 families they would make food hampers for, and Rachel was able to spend time with them and help pack these hampers. Later that day we were invited to the private family meal that signals the re-incarnation, a sure sign our presence and help had been a blessing. On their 4-storey high rooftop overlooking the mountains they made an awning with an old indian army parachute, we all sat underneath, sharing the meal for a man we had never known, speaking in broken english.
Please pray for our tibetan friends as we seek to display the love of Jesus in action and word.