Gina wites:

Awhile ago, our friend Prakash asked us to accompany him to his mother's grave for Easter. Of course we said yes. Of course we had no idea what we were actually saying yes to! Fortunately, it turned out to be a really cool experience.

We were up at 5 a.m. to wait for Prakash to come with a rickshaw to take us to the cemetery. The rickshaw drove to the Christian part of town (where the biggest Christian church is and a lot of Christians, but not all, live) and then down a hill to a part that I'd never been to before. All of a sudden, we turned a corner and saw probably 500 people, crowded around colorful graves surrounded by candles. In the dawning (yawning!) light, it was truly ethereal.

It seemed like a quiet, solemn occasion, but as we made our way through the rows of graves, I realized that it was much like any other Indian gathering--people talking, celebrating, and just plain enjoying being with each other. When we got to Prakash's mother's grave, we were introduced to his dad, brothers, aunts, uncles, and cousins, some of whom we've met before, most of whom we haven't. We were given a handful of flowers (yellow carnations?) and 4 candles. We followed the others' lead and placed some of the flowers on each of the 4 graves of Prakash's family, then lit a candle and stood it around the border of the grave.

While this was happening, there was a service of some sort going on, with singing, Bible readings, and speeches. We stood there for about an hour. I have to admit, I became pretty uncomfortable standing for that long, especially with the smoke from literally hundreds of incense sticks swirling around my face. Some of Prakash's little cousins entertained us for some of the time.

After the service, we took the rickshaw to Prakash's house, where we had breakfast (tiffin, as it's called here). His brother was visiting from Delhi and his English is excellent (as is Prakash's), so we had some good conversations in addition to good food. It was an especially funny moment when we were asked about Easter traditions in the U.S. Our descriptions of the Easter bunny, dying and hiding eggs, and having Easter baskets suddenly seemed incredibly strange.

With our bellies full, we hopped into a rickshaw back to our house and it wasn't even 9 a.m.! So I took a nap...until noon.

What a great Easter!