Institute for Advanced Study and Northrop Present

Talking to the Dead

An Interfaith Panel Discussion on Life and Death
Past event
Mar 11, 2021
overhead close up of hands cupped tightly together

For as long as humans have existed, we have faced the inevitability of saying goodbye to those who have died. All cultures and religions have end-of-life rituals and practices that honor the lives of our loved ones. This conversation brings together faith and community leaders in an exploration of how we navigate the space between life and death, and how we continue to commemorate those who have passed. With an introduction by Ragamala Artistic Directors Ranee and Aparna Ramaswamy, the program will also feature panelists Godan Nambudiripad, Marc Markell, and Rabbi Lynn Liberman, with Moderator Virajita Singh.

This discussion is inspired by and rooted in Ranee Ramaswamy and Aparna Ramaswamy’s Fires of Varanasi, which Ragamala Dance Company will perform in Northrop’s 2021-22 season. The performance evokes a richly elaborate ritual where time is suspended and humans merge with the divine. Through images that reflect the cosmic trinity of Varanasi, India—sacred pilgrimage routes, the Ganges River, and the patron deity Shiva—the choreographers imagine a metaphorical crossing place where one may leave the mundane and enter into the world of immortality.