Posted on 06/03/2021 11:41 am / Updated 06/03/2021 at 11:43 am
(Credit: AFP / Manjunath Kiran)
Bangalore, India – Hundreds of earthen pots, with a simple number as their sole identity, are carried daily from a crematorium to the Kaveri River on the outskirts of the Indian city of Bangalore for an unusual farewell ceremony.
The urns contain the ashes of around 1,200 coronavirus victims whose bodies have not been claimed by family members.
Given the magnitude of the Covid-19 tragedy in India, the local authorities chose to immerse the ashes in the river without the presence of family members.
The ceremony took place in Karnataka, one of the Asian states hit by the devastating fourth wave of the pandemic.
More than 160,000 people died in India in eight weeks.
Sumanhali crematorium was in danger of being full.
Last rites are mandatory cremation rites in Hinduism, but dipping the ashes of the dead in the river is equally important, as this is how your soul is considered free.
However, hundreds of people died in Bangalore and their families did not come to collect the bodies.
Some people are too poor to perform farewell rituals and others are afraid of being infected at crematoriums, where bodies and relatives frequent, and funerals take place without stopping.
“If two or three members in a family have died of coronavirus, others do not come for the ashes for fear of getting infected,” explains Kiran Kumar, an employee of TR Mills crematorium.
Concerned about the increasing number of funeral urns, the authorities decided to hold the ceremony with Hindu priests under the supervision of public officials.