Tuesday, 10 May 2011

Culture Specific and Culture Sensitive End-of-Life Care: A Case Study Based on Kashi Labh Mukti Bhawan, Banaras

In all the major civilizations of the world, death, dying, disposal of dead body and the rituals related with death have been major concern of the society. In Hinduism, old age care and death have achieved not only special connotations in terms of spiritual and religious values but also culturally defined modes of behaviour. Kashi, the holy city of Hindus, has special significance in the process of old age care, dying and death. The city abounds in terms of old age care institutions run either by some charitable organizations or by some social welfare organizations, yet it is the Kashi Labh Mukti Bhawan which is a unique organization that illustrates the culture specific and culture sensitive end-of-life care in abundance. For those living out of the sacred space of Kashi, this organization serves as an instrument to fulfill their last wish to die in Kashi and have their last rites and other rituals in this sacred city.

The present study is based on Kashi Labh Mukti Bhawan. It explores the nature of services and facilities available for the dying old aged persons in this organization. It also endeavours to understand the fulfillment of religious and psychosocial needs and satisfaction which old aged persons and their family receive through this organization. Data of the study have been gathered through formal interviews and observation technique.
The study finds that the Kashi Labh Mukti Bhawan is not simply a shelter home and support apparatus to provide end-of-life care to the dying ones but is performing an important role in attaining religious goals and psychological solace to the dying old aged person. The Kashi Labh Mukti Bhawan thus becomes a facilitator and serves the cause of the old aged person in his journey towards salvation and spiritual satisfaction at the fag end of his life. As such, this institution exemplifies the end-of-life care which is culture sensitive and encompasses the values and belief system of Hinduism.
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