Agra, April 14 (IANS) The coronavirus lockdown across the entire country it seems has not even spared the dead. It has also affected the crematoriums and cemeteries where people used to gather for the last rites of their loved ones.
Now only a few people are able to attend funerals due to the social distancing and lockdown which has affected the conduct of rituals and immersion of ashes.
Eight to 10 bodies are brought daily to the crematorium at Tajganj in Agra, and more people have started coming in since the last few days for the rituals.
IANS spoke to a crematorium worker here who said that “only 4 to 5 people are allowed to come in for the funeral procedure. It is the same as before. No change has been made.”
“But earlier we used to give the ashes to the kin in 2 days or used to give it to someone within 3 to 4 hours in an emergency, but now people have to keep the ashes and the main reason is the lockdown as people do not have facilities for cremation and burial.”
On being asked if he observed in any changes in the cremation of people who died due to coronavirus, he said that the bodies are cremated as soon as they arrive. It is done hurriedly and no customs are observed.
Manoj Kumar, who had come to attend the funeral of a relative, told IANS that “there is a lot of difference due to the lockdown. If there were any deaths in our area earlier, around 200 to 250 people would have gathered and all customs of cremation were followed, but now the situation has changed a lot, as barely 5 to 8 people are joining. According to custom, the head shaving of male relatives has to be done but now it could not happen as the priests are afraid to come here, so we have not been able to do the ‘pooja’ properly.”
“Because of the lockdown, the remains cannot be taken to Haridwar. We do not know how to follow the customs now,” he said.
When IANS spoke to a gravedigger at a cemetery, he also said that “there are no crowds now, just a few people come and when the body is buried, we tell the family members to leave immediately.”