With long queues outside crematoriums during the second surge of Covid cases in India, many family attendees of the deceased lose the chance to say goodbye. The funeral rites that are in place for the family attendees to process the loss of a loved one have been compromised during the pandemic to curb further infection. Further, some bodies are unclaimed or abandoned as relatives fear contracting the virus.
At a time when several families have refused to cremate their relatives over the fear of Covid – 19, Secretary of Vishwa Hindu Parishad, Mangaluru division Sharan Pumpwell and his team have come as a glimmer of hope.
Speaking to News Karnataka Sharan said, “Many people are coming forward to help amid Covid pandemic in their own way. We have come to know that relatives are hesitating to cremate the body of Covid patients. After imposing lockdown due to the restrictions on travelling it has become difficult to come to bid a farewell. The volunteers or some hospital staff used to cremate body but however, we have our rituals of performing last rites which were not being followed by them. So we thought of cremating bodies with all the due rituals according to their religion,” he said.
“When a patient succumbs, their body is kept in a body bag which is handed over to the family members who will be clad in PPE suits. They will contact us or we get the information about the unclaimed or abandoned bodies. We have three ambulances for this, our volunteers wearing PPE kit, gloves and mask will bring the body to the cremation ground. Last rites that involve bodily contact are not allowed. Reading from a religious script, splashing holy water, and other such rites will be allowed. These restrictions are in place to prevent the attenders and staff from contracting the virus. Following these, our volunteers carry out the last rites in a dignified manner,” he added.
From the past 25 days, we have cremated more than 120 bodies in Mangaluru. All these services are provided free of cost. We handover the sacred ash of succumbed to their relatives the next day, he informed.