It does not seem very important for people who can afford a daily needs easily. The tradition of mrityubhoj surprised me when my far away relative died in Rajasthan and close relative of mine (some of were really educated), who were influencing their family (who can only afford a day meal) to organize a death feast: mrityubhoj.
How mrityubhoj is an unnecessary social practice that proves to be more a burden than anything else. The custom entails organizing large meals for relatives, friends and acaquaintances from all across, who come to pay condolences at someone’s death.
This tradition Is mostly takes place in Tier-II cities and mostly in villages of Rajasthan state.
I have seen farmers and bourgeois, who can ill afford even square a meal a day, struggling to hold mrityubhoj for upholding their social dignity and confirming to the societal values and norms. Not following the tradition might render them a social deviant before the society at large.
It is an expensive affair because you are feeding a huge gathering. It usually gives pain a lot to the person who organizes mrityubhoj for the villagers. It is astonishing to find that we are still stuck in time warp, so much so much so that poor people also take loans at times to perform this.
To discourage this practice, CHHAVI RAJAWAT(she has been consistently working for the betterment of her village soda in tonk district of Rajasthan) she is using here most potent weapon: dialogue “I visit grieving family consciously refuse to partake in the mrityubhoj, I even return if it is sent to my place. I tell them that do not have to do it just because that is how It has been for centuries.” I try reason with them- that we constitute the samaj or society & only we can bring about a change.
A tradition about which most people are unaware of its legal technicalities or may be they are aware but knowingly ignoring.
An act to provide for the prevention of Mrityu Bhoj is named as:
Rajasthan Prevention of Mrityu Bhoj Act, 1960
(Act No. 1 of 1960)
- Short title, extent and commencement– (1) This Act may be called the Rajasthan Prevention of Mrityu Bhoj Act, 1960.
(2) It extends to the whole of the State of Rajasthan.
(3) It shall come into force at once.
- Definition– In this Act, unless the subject or context otherwise requires,-
(a) ‘Mrityu Bhoj’ means a feast held or given on the occasion of, or in connection with the demise of a person after any time for at any intervals and includes a Nukta, a Mosar and a Chahallum, and
(b) ‘holding or giving Mrityu Bhoj’ includes distribution of articles of food, prepared or unprepared, but does not include the feeding of the family people or persons of the pristly order or fagirs in pursuance of the performance of religious or secular rites, not exceeding in the aggregate one hundred person in number.
- Prohibition of Mrityu Bhoj– No person shall hold or give or join or take part in a Mrityu Bhoj in the State.
- Punishment for contravention of section 3– Whoever commits a contravention of the provisions of section 3 or instigates, abets or assists the commission of any such contravention shall be punishable with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to one year, or with fine may extend to one thousand rupees, or with both.
- Power to issue injunction– If a court competent to take cognizance of an offence punishable under section 4 is satisfied that a Mrityu Bhoj in contravention of the provisions of this Act has been arranged or is about to be held or given such court may issue an injunction prohibiting the holding or giving of such Mrityu Bhoj.
- Punishment for disobedience of injunction under section 5– Whoever, knowing that an injunction has been issued under section 5, disobeys such injunction shall be punishable with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to one year, or with fine which may extend to one thousand rupees, or with both.
Any contravention of the signature issued under section 5 of this Act has been made punishable upto one year or five upto Rs. 1000/- or both.
- Sarpanchas etc. bound to give information– (1) The Sarpanch and every Panch of a Gram Panchayat established under the Rajasthan Panchayat Act 1953 (Rajasthan Act 21 of 1953) and every patwari and lambardar shall be bound to communicate forthwith to the nearest magistrate competent to take cognizance of an offence punishable under section 4 or section 6 any information which he may posses respecting the commission of, or intention to commit, such offence, within the local limits of his jurisdiction.
(2) any such Sarpanch, Panch, Patwari or Lambardar failing to give the information required by sub-section (1) to communicate shall be punishable with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to three months, or with fine, or with both.
This section makes it obligatory upon a Sarpanch and every Panch or the Gram Panchayat, Patwari and Lambardar to give information for the offences U/s 5 of 6 to the nearest First Class Magistrate, if he fails to do so he can be also punished and convicted under this section upto 3 month or fine or both.
- Prohibition of borrowing or lending money– (1) No person shall borrow from, or lend to, any other person money or materials for the purpose of holding or giving a Mrityu Bhoj.
(2) Every agreement for the repayment of a loan advanced with the knowledge or having reason to believe that the loan so advanced will be utilized for the purpose of the holding or giving of a Mrityu Bhoj shall be void and not enforceable in a court of law.
- Jurisdiction and cognizance of offence– No court other than that of magistrate of the first class shall take cognizance of, or try, or try, any offence punishable under this Act.
- Limitation for prosecution– No court shall take cognizance of any offence under this Act after the expiry of one year from the date on which the offence is alleged to have been committed.