I recently read about an ancient Mongolian burial custom called ‘open-air sacrificial burial‘—a seemingly common ritual among Asian nomads. As part of this ritual, the corpse is taken to an uninhabited sacred area reserved for funeral-related events and left in the open as a sacrifice to predatory animals. People return back to that site a few days later to check what is left of the corpse. If they find only bones, it is believed that the soul was innocent and pure, has reached heaven, and will be reborn. On the other hand, if they find some remains, it means the soul had not been admitted to heaven and still dwells in the corpse. The spiritual leader is then required to return and read more prayers for the dead to show the spirit the way to heaven.
Just to clarify, this post is not about Mongolian customs or death or even Mongolia. The information about Mongolians will start to make sense as you finish reading the blog.
For those who have been reading my blogs, you might be aware that I recently immigrated to Canada from India. It has been a little over 6 months that I moved—the longest I’ve been away from my home and my parents in India. I’ve been loving every single minute in Toronto but here are my top 5 reasons why I wanted to visit India for a bit (in no particular order):
- I missed my parents
- I was homesick
- I craved home-cooked meals; especially some traditionally made food items
- I managed to get a good deal on air tickets
- I needed to get my hair done without spending a fortune on it
…you get the drift!
I have my own ways of coping with homesickness which mostly involves Korean entertainment and literature. But that wasn’t enough, so in April, I decided to take some time off from work and fly to India for a quick visit.
I was really happy and excited to go back to India and meet friends and family whom I hadn’t seen in months! This was the first time I travelled with Emirates. Apart from the fact that it was by far the best long-haul flight I’ve had (comment on this post if you want me to do a detailed review), here’s what I learned after I landed in India and spent some quality time with my family:
- I still take over 2 weeks to recover from jet lag (some things never change!).
- Meeting friends and family was really nice BUT I missed Toronto and Canada (a lot!) more than I thought I would. Funny, how I never missed India this much when I moved to Toronto!
- My taste buds and immune system have ‘evolved’ and certain foods that I liked eating no longer appeal to me.
- I’ve gotten used to the comforts that a first world country like Canada has to offer; it’s sort of difficult to adjust back to life in India.
- Note to self: 1.5 to 2 weeks seems like a good timeframe for visiting India; I think I went a little overboard with 3+ weeks this time.
Earlier, I’d always refer to India as ‘home’ in my conversations with colleagues and friends in Toronto. When I was leaving for India, I told people I was going home. And ironically, during my conversations with friends in India, I called Toronto ‘home’ on more than one occasion. 🙂
Almost 10 years ago I wrote a poem called Where I Truly Belong—it’s about Mumbai, the place/city where I’m from. I read that again today and wondered if there will ever come a time when I’ll be inspired enough to compose something equally poetic about Toronto.
They say home is where the heart is. In my case, ever since I first visited Canada in 2014, I think my heart was, is, and will always be in Canada.
As my departure date draws closer, I’ve slowly come to realize that the urge to get back to Canada was in fact a good thing—there were no remains when I visited India, which was a sign for me to rejoice as my soul had been reborn in a happier place.
I can’t wait to get back home! 🙂
[If you were wondering why I read about Mongolian burial customs, I first heard about it very briefly in the final episode of a k-drama I was watching – Because This Is my First Life. I got curious and looked it up.]