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Paul Vadakumpadan, Guwahati says,
TILL WE MEET AGAIN AT THE NEXT FUNERAL
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Guwahati, May. 27. An interesting aspect of funerals is that they bring together people who have not met one another for a long time. A fitting parting wish at funerals could be ``till we meet again at the next funeral.`` So the dead render a remarkable service by bringing together the living.

TILL WE MEET AGAIN
AT THE NEXT FUNERAL

An interesting aspect of funerals is that they bring together people who have not met one another for a long time. A fitting parting wish at funerals could be ``till we meet again at the next funeral.`` So the dead render a remarkable service by bringing together the living.

Several years ago, there was much talk about funeral diplomacy. Deaths of certain leaders brought together other leaders, on the same platform, some of whom were at opposite ends of the ideological or political spectrum. In the villages of our region, I notice that funerals are the most heavily frequented events. Everybody takes part. All are welcome. In fact, there is no special invitation for the function. Generally the burial time is more or less the same always. So there is no need of special information either.

In some areas, funerals are organised and financed by the entire village. The people there deserve kudos for this excellent practice of theirs. In certain parts of India, funerals like marriages can spell disaster for the meagre financial resources of poor families. They would do well to imitate the marvellous example of some of the tribal communities of this remote corner of India.

For those who look at death as the ultimate tragedy, these remarkable aspects connected with the passing away of a human being must be proof enough that after all it is not entirely negative. However inexorable evil may appear, there are some moments when the good in human nature triumphs. A funeral is one such occasion. This is looking at it positively. From the negative perspective, it is sad that we have to wait for death to bring about what life is all about. Life consists in sharing, togetherness and community.

It is such togetherness that makes life meaningful and worthwhile. It is certainly commendable that the dead unite the living. But to wait for death to achieve that is unfortunate. If human beings were able to overcome disunity, life would be enriched several times over. Death then becomes not a tearful parting or a cruel wrenching, but a most logical and normal end to something beautiful. Those blest with the eyes of faith will see this too not as a final end but the beginning of never ending life.  Where there is sharing and communion, this never ending quality of life already makes itself felt.

Hence our greeting will not be ``till we meet at the next funeral`` but ``in death as in life we celebrate our communion``.

Fr. Paul Vadakumpadan SDB

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