“He commented that I’m lucky: to have seen Mr Iyengar alive; to be here on his death. “It’s synchronicity,” he said. “It’s once in a lifetime, to see this celebration.” He repeatedly called the funeral a “celebration”; I wondered if he meant “ceremony.” But maybe it was intentional.”
Walking toward RIMYI just after noon, I saw a crowd blocking the street. Just outside the gate, an ambulance was parked. Soon I heard chanting, and five or six men, draped in white cloth, came carrying the body of BKS Iyengar, adorned with flowers, high on a stretcher.
I went alone, not knowing what to expect. Suddenly I, along with seven Brits, found a ride to the cremation ground in an Iyengar family friend’s spacious, air-conditioned SUV. I’m still amazed at this man’s generosity: inviting eight strangers to squeeze into his VIP vehicle. (We had to catch rickshaws back; he had to transport Prashant.)
Hindu funeral rites are very unfamiliar to Western eyes. I couldn’t see much, standing behind dozens of others. Some were taking pictures, holding their camera above their heads. I, too, wanted to memorialize the day, but couldn’t bring myself to take pictures.
Besides, I won’t forget the informal gathering, so unlike the hushed, orderly funerals that I’ve…
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