ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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On Anthropology of Death

On Anthropology of Death Kumkum Srivastava Vinay Kumar Srivastava Death in Banaras by J P Parry, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 1994. IN India, as in perhaps other cultures of the world, an overt discussion of the subject of death is almost a taboo. Words for the appurtenances associated with death such as for the funeral pier, the shroud, the ritual ingredients, or the corpse are carefully avoided in everyday speech. Members of certain communities believe that any talk of death, or mention of objects and experiences concerning it, may be dangerous; it may de facto amount to extending death an invitation. Any inadvertent mention, especially by a child, is interpreted as a premonition of sudden death of a kinsfolk. Mating calls of domestic pets and animals such as cats and dogs termed 'cries', 'wails', 'sobs' and 'weeping' are also forewarnings of an impending life crisis, the death. In north Indian villages, sighting a crow in the wee hours is inauspicious as this bird is a harbinger of death. Shops selling 'goods' required for the funeral rites such as ropes, bier, buntings, cloth, straw, are small and unassuming; they never advertise their products and keep a low profile. These shopkeepers' families are generally shunned by neighbours and looked down upon. At the same time, they are under moral pressure not to change their mode of livelihood. They have to 'live off death'.
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