The Uses of Ritual
My childhood memories of rituals derive from the house of my grandparents, a dark three-storied house in a narrow lane off a main bazaar of Lahore, a house with little space but much warmth, which was the site of many ritual festivities. The rituals were celebrated within a typical Indian extended family, a sprawling collection of my father’s dozen brothers, sisters, cousins and assorted uncles and aunts on visits that in some cases could extend over a year. My childhood memory of rituals is of gaiety and excitement interspersed with solemn interludes. I have a vague recollection of ritual specialists, the pandits and pujaris, who presided over some of the religious rituals and a much more vivid memory of the kitchen, full of women, that was in action from early morning till night, a source of steaming hot delicacies coming out of deep-bottomed frying pans.