THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: It was during a routine visit to the city’s Ekalavya Ashram a few months ago that octogenarian Jagadam Bhanu made a strange request to ashram head Swamy Aswathy Thirunal.
“Swamy, can you perform the funeral rites when I die?”The swamy was baffled. “But amma, customs don’t allow sanyasis to do it”.“Ok, leave it, I just asked,” she smiled and changed the topic of conversation.
On Wednesday, Jagadam breathed her last at a private hospital. The 88-year-old was suffering from an intestinal problem besides old-age ailments. Her two daughters — one in Australia and the other in the US — couldn’t fly to the state owing to the flight suspension due to Covid-19 spread.
The swamy organised her funeral and conducted special prayers instead of the normal rites. “In her lifetime, mummy, as we would call her, wasn’t interested in rituals though she was a devout person. Charity was her passion and she had spent considerable time, energy and money for the children of our care home,” Swamy said.
On Wednesday afternoon, Jagadam’s body was brought to the Manjalikkulam campus of the ashram where the care home functions. Her body was laid in the yoga hall near a wicked lamp. As the sanyasis chanted Mrytyunjaya Mantra, the children of the home offered flowers at their beloved well-wisher’s feet and prayed for her soul. Deepa, her long-serving maid, was also present. After the brief ceremony, the body was taken to Santhikavadom where it was cremated around 2.30 pm.
Swamy recalled Jagadam as a venerable woman with deep knowledge in spiritual matters.“Mummy was an ardent devotee of Lord Ganesha. She was less talkative but would firmly express her views in conversations,” he said.
Jagadam and her late husband worked in Singapore for decades. She was a school teacher. The couple’s children, Meera Maniyar and Chithra Bhanu live in Australia and the USA respectively.