Hindu Manners, Customs and Ceremonies

By J. A. Dubois; Henry King Beauchamp | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XVIII

Mourning.—The Condition of Widowhood.—The General Contempt for
Widows.—Remarriages forbidden.

The happiest death for a woman is that which overtakes her while she is still in a wedded state. Such a death is looked upon as the reward of goodness extending back for many generations1; on the other hand, the greatest misfortune that can befal1 a wife is to survive her husband.

Should the husband die first, as soon as he breathes his last the widow attires herself in her best clothes and bedecks herself with all her jewels2. Then, with all the signs of the deepest grief, she throws herself on his body, embracing it and uttering loud cries. She holds the corpse tightly clasped in her arms until her parents, generally silent spectators of this scene, are satisfied that this first demonstration of grief is sufficient, when they restrain her from these sad embraces. She yields to their efforts with great reluctance, and with repeated pretences of escaping out of their hands and rushing once again to the lifeless remains of her husband. Then, finding her attempts useless, she rolls on the ground like one possessed, strikes her breast violently, tears out her hair, and manifests many other signs of the deepest despair. Now, are these noisy professions of grief and affliction to be attributed to an excess of conjugal affection, to real sorrow? The answer will appear rather perplexing, when we remark that it is the general custom to act in this manner, and that all these demonstrations are previously arranged as a part of the ceremonies of mourning.

After the first outbursts of grief, she rises, and, assuming a more composed look, approaches her husband's body. Then in one continuous strain, which would be hardly possible under real affliction, she apostrophizes her husband in a long series of questions, of which I give a summary as follows:—

____________________
1
Children are even consoled with the thought, when their mothers die in a wedded state.—Ed.
2
This is the last occasion on which she is allowed to wear ornaments of any kind.—Ed.

-350-

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Hindu Manners, Customs and Ceremonies
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page i
  • Editor's Preface to Third Edition iii
  • Prefatory Note v
  • Editor's Introduction viii
  • Contents xxix
  • Author's Preface 1
  • General View of Society in India, and General Remarks on the Caste System 14
  • Chapter I 14
  • Chapter II 27
  • Chapter III 38
  • Chapter IV 44
  • Chapter V 48
  • Chapter VI 80
  • Chapter VII 97
  • Chapter VIII 108
  • Chapter IX 111
  • Chapter X 123
  • Chapter XI 134
  • Chapter XII 138
  • Chapter XIII 143
  • Chapter XIV 155
  • The Four States of Brahminical Life 160
  • Chapter I 160
  • Chapter II 170
  • Chapter III 178
  • Chapter IV 186
  • Chapter V 194
  • Chapter VI 205
  • Chapter VII 235
  • Chapter VIII 269
  • Chapter IX 282
  • Chapter X 288
  • Chapter XI 295
  • Chapter XII 306
  • Chapter XIII 316
  • Chapter XIV 326
  • Chapter XV 332
  • Chapter XVI 336
  • Chapter XVII 343
  • Chapter XVIII 350
  • Chapter XIX 355
  • Chapter XX 368
  • Chapter XXI 376
  • Chapter XXII 392
  • Chapter XXIII 401
  • Chapter XXIV 415
  • Chapter XXV 420
  • Chapter XXVI 433
  • Chapter XXVII 450
  • Chapter XXVIII 474
  • Chapter XXIX 482
  • Chapter XXX 489
  • Chapter XXXI 500
  • Chapter XXXII 509
  • Chapter XXXIII 517
  • Chapter XXXIV 522
  • Chapter XXXV 528
  • Chapter XXXVI 538
  • Religion 542
  • Chapter I 542
  • Chapter II 556
  • Chapter III 567
  • Chapter IV 577
  • Chapter V 612
  • Chapter VI 636
  • Chapter VII 648
  • Chapter VIII 654
  • Chapter IX 667
  • Appendix I 685
  • Appendix II 701
  • Appendix III 706
  • Appendix IV 708
  • Appendix Vi. 717
  • Index 723
  • Some Opinions of the Press *
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