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Tribute to Ratan Barua, (June 30, 1954 – April 1, 2014)

 

 

Yesterday, the Bangladeshi Buddhist community of New York lost a beloved leader in Ratan Barua.  New Yorkers of all faith traditions will mourn this loss. Ratan Barua had dedicated his life to human rights at home and overseas.

A student leader, a monk, and freedom fighter in Bangladesh, Ratan Barua worked with Hindus, Muslims, and Christians in his home country.  His ability to negotiate religious difference did not change with his arrival in the United States. In Queens, Ratan Barua continued to address the needs of those who came to him regardless of religious background.

On any given day, writes Matt Weiner (Director of Religious Life at Princeton and former Program Director of ICNY), Ratan “[is dealing] with human rights abuses in Bangladesh and with immigration problems of other clients [in New York].”   He cares for “a woman abused by her husband . . . [and] an orphaned girl whose parents were killed in a car accident.”

In 2009, the New York Times ran a story about how Ratan Barua worked with other religious communities to get an unidentifiable body released and returned to Bangledash. The article stated,

The quest to find [the body’s] identity was taken up by scores of Bangladeshis, led by Ratan Barua, a storeowner and activist who is routinely sought out by families who need help re-patriating the remains of relatives who die in New York.  Mr. Barua, a Buddhist, estimates that he has helped ship more than 200 bodies back to Bangladesh.

“I do as much as I can to help other people, if Muslim or Buddhist or Christian — any faith,” he said. “After all, they’re human beings.”

Mr. Barua sought help from Mr. Weiner of the Interfaith Center. . . Mr. Weiner put Mr. Barua in touch with the Jewish Community Relations Council, which frequently works with the medical examiner’s office to secure the rapid release of Jews’ remains. Rabbi Elchonon Zohn, a consultant for the council on end-of-life issues, said he called the office “to see whether there was any way to expedite this.”

Thanks to the assistance of DNA sampling process and the help of the Bangladesh Consulate of New York and foreign ministry officials in Dhaka, relatives of the man had his body returned to them.

Ratan Barua took care of those in need, regardless of background, both in life and after death. His life is an inspiration for us to do the same.

There will be a three day program in honor of Ratan Barua from Friday April 4th to Sunday April 6th.  The viewing and interfaith prayers will take place at Leo F. Kearns Funeral Home located at 103-33 Lefferts Blvd, Richmond Hill, NY 11416on Friday April 4, between 5-8 pm. The funeral service will take place at the same location on Saturday between 2-9 pm.  Finally, there will be a prayer service at theSri Lankan Buddhist Temple on Sunday between 10-4 pm at 21422 Spencer Ave (Hillside Avenue & 215 Street), Queens Village, NY 11427.
For further information, please contact Pupel Barua at (917) 254-2641 or pupel_barua@hotmail.com


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