When do acts of respect become rituals and should they be stopped before they get that far?
About a month ago I visited my family in Glasgow. It’s been a while since I’ve been up and I wanted to celebrate Eid with them this year. It also happened at a time when I started to really miss my late grandmother. It’s been about 7 years since we lost her and I miss her all the time, some times more than others.
With that in mind I wanted to pay my respects to her grave. Now I’m not a big believer in revisiting the graves of our ancestors however I feel it is ok if it is just once in a while.
During my short 4 day visit my family decided it was best to go the graveyard on Eid shortly after our prayers. It was the only time that we were all going to be together as a family and as some of us didn’t know where to look it was helpful to go together.
What I saw when I got there made me question if I was doing the right thing or not.
In the graveyard there were other big groups of people, all of whom were also celebrating, hovering around the graves of their loved ones with offerings of flowers.
Was this a custom for people here to visit at celebrations? Religiously speaking we are not meant to visit graves at all. This to me seemed like a deliberate act on a religious holiday. I felt like people had added a custom to their beliefs that should never have been there in the first place.
Now expanding on what I mentioned earlier, I believe that you can pray for someone regardless of where you are in the world.
You are going to ask me why then did I feel the need to go to the graveyard in the first place, right?
Visits to graveyards are not essential although they can give a feeling of closeness to those gone.
After my experience that day I think my compulsion to go again has been subdued; for now. There is a part of me that feels that being near my grandmother’s grave brings me closer to her but, as I type, the other part of me tells me to think of how stupid that is.
I believe deep down everyone should remember their departed as they see fit. The only exception of this is when they make it a part of their religious duty.
I can’t say I won’t go back to visit the plot that my grandmother’s headstone holds, although I will be more mindful on how I do it in the future.