Lockdown shuts out wood supply for cremation grounds

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Humans are cremated at Varanasi in Hindu tradition on the bank of Ganges (Photo: Steve Hicks via Wikipedia)

Lucknow–Birthdays, weddings, anniversaries and other celebrations have been put off due to the lockdown but in Uttar Pradesh, shortage of wood for cremations may now make the dead wait for their last journey as well.

Bhaisakund, now renamed Baikunthdham, the biggest cremation ground in the state capital, is running out of wood and has enough left for about the next three days.

Kalu Pandit, who performs the last rituals at Bhaisakund, said, “Since the lockdown began, wood supplies have stopped. If supplies are not ensured, we may have to stop cremations after three or four days.”

He said that people were very sensitive when it came to cremation rituals and a law and order problem could not be ruled out if this is disrupted.

Bhaisakund witnesses the cremation of about 15 to 20 bodies on normal days.

Residents of the old city areas go to the Gulala cremation ground that has about 8 to 10 cremations every day.

“Since the outbreak of corona, people are preferring he electric crematorium because the number of people coming with the bodies is now less than six. The electric crematorium, however, cannot cope with the rush,” he said.

At the Gulala ghat, the local pandits have arranged for some wood locally but they are equally worried about the lack of supplies.

Pandits at both the cremation grounds said that they have informed the local administration about the problem but nothing had been done so far.

Municipal Commissioner Indramani Tripathi, meanwhile, said that the second crematorium would soon be commissioned at Bhaisakund and would ease the pressure on cremation by wood.

In Prayagraj, the main cremation ground at Rasoolabad is facing a similar problem. Rajendra who performs the cremation rights, said that people are willing to pay thrice the normal rate for wood but their stock is depleting.

The situation is better at the Manikarnika Ghat in Varanasi.

“Since the lockdown, dead bodies from adjoining districts and states have stopped coming and our stock is, therefore, intact. With only local bodies being brought here, we may continue till the lockdown is lifted,” said Ravi, a cremator. (IANS)

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