Shanthinagar’s Hindu Burial Grounds
I didn’t know Hindus were buried. Like, they’re always cremated, right?
And then I stumbled on our local Hindu graveyard. And realized how wrong we were.
The Bangalore architect laughed at me when I asked him about it later.
“That’s the great white myth,” he said. “You Westerners still like to romanticize us Indians like the colonialists. But it’s not true. These days, most of us Hindus prefer to be buried.”
Most Hindus are buried??? That can’t be right. Maybe most of Bangalore Hindus? Or most of his Brahmin community? Or most high-tech Indians? But what about Varanasi? The shamshan burning ghats? The history, the rituals?
But the evidence was here… at least some Hindus are buried. My coworkers agreed: it’s more popular nowadays.
So is it Western romanticization if I post a bunch of pix from the graveyard? I mean, compared to the fairly boring Christian and Muslim burial grounds that flanked it, it was so much more awesome!
Shiva Lingams and Nandi bulls topped the gravestones…
They were hand-painted in gorgeous colors…
And some even had miniature sculptures of the deceased!
Many were swathed in colored paste, as if celebrating Holi…
And the professionals listed their careers, like Kudari the Bank Officer or Ramamurthy the ITI manager…
And then in the very middle of the Hindu burial ground, in a small gated area, I came across the Chinese section — Chinatown of the aferlife, perhaps? — filled with a dozen graves for old Bangalore immigrants.
I tried to find out more about the Chinese dead, but Google was little help. Of course, because it was India, the whole graveyard was covered in trash.
Two young boys offered to clean some graves for a few rupees, but I said no. So many cows, goats, and packs of wild dogs were loving the garbage, I thought it would be silly.
But even though the cemetery was dirty, and overgrown, and crawling with animals, locals still chose to hang out there. Four men sat gambling on a wide stretch-gravestone. They waved me over as I passed by, and pointed out a photo nailed to a tree. “This is MG Ramachandran,” one said. “MGR. Tamil film star. Photo?”
Yes. Photo. Always.