Raj Kaushal last rites: Bidding him goodbye, actor Mandira Bedi partook in husband Raj Kaushal's funeral on Wednesday. Where traditionally by Hindu customs, women have been kept away from performing last rites of the deceased, Bedi defied age-old convention to be as close as she could to her partner a final time.
Kaushal, 49, died of a cardiac attack early morning today in Mumbai. According to his close friend, musician Sulaiman Merchant, Kaushla had been feeling uneasy since the evening of June 29 and took an antacid. He later told his wife that he was having a heart attack, who called their friend Ashish Chaudhary for help. "Mandira and Ashish put him in the car but he was losing consciousness. I think they drove off, taking him to the Lilavati Hospital if I'm not wrong. But in the next 5-10 minutes, they realised that he had no pulse. Before they reached the doctor, it was too late." Sulaiman also revealed that Kaushal had suffered a heart attack when he was in his 30s. "But they took a lot of care after that attack, and he'd kept fine since then," he added.
Director of films like Pyaar Mein Kabhi Kabhi and Anthony Kaun Hai, Kaushal is survived by Bedi and their two children, Vir and Tara. More here.
Donning a white tee and denims, Bedi in funeral photos doing rounds on social media, can be seen carrying the earthen pot to be broken at the cremation and leading the front, carrying Kaushal's body to the pyre with other attendees.
The visibly grief-stricken Bedi, in doing so, urges a pertinent question: When women - daughters, wives, sisters, mothers, friends - are chief mourners at a funeral, then why must they be forbidden from their loved ones' final journey? Should gender stand in the way of expressing love for one who has passed?
Raj Kaushal Last Rites By Mandira Bedi: Time To Challenge Sexist Traditions?
Defenders of tradition, citing ancient knowledge, have given a string of arbitrary reasons for why women should be kept from Hindu funerals: it gives off negative energy, women are faint-hearted, their presence prevents the attainment of nirvana and moksha. Must such regressive tradition hold women back from what is essentially a human desire to participate in the farewell to someone they held close?
There have been several instances as Bedi's in recent times, where women have broken this sexist tradition to lead funerals. Some names like Namita Kaul and Mallika Sarabhai are prominent, while other memorable incidents include these women in Varanasi and these daughters-in-law in Maharashtra.
Often, families - those who know best how close someone was to a deceased parent or &t=1124s">spouse - hold women back from partaking in funerals, invoking holy texts and tales. But how much weightage do they hold when pure human emotions are at stake? How merciless is our tradition to prevent women from being with their beloveds in their last moments?
Image Credit: Viral Bhayani/ HT