Kerala Kaumudi Online
Saturday, 17 April 2021 8.36 PM IST

Burying, a Tradition and Buying a Tradition


It was T S Elliot who said, “I will show you fear in a handful of dust.” How true! Since life took its birth on the earth billions of years ago, how many corpses and carcasses have decayed to be part of the earth? Every handful of soil we scoop up has a bit of a dear departed in it. From the inanimate to the animate, soil is what they all become part of, in the end. For all life forms except man, birth and death are insignificant parts of a life cycle, the way of all flesh. For us also it used to be like that at the start. But as we imbibed culture, customs and faiths, we changed our attitude towards birth and death. When faith took the form of religion, each religion developed its own rites of passage, almost like an identity. As science grew, our life style also changed. However, it is nothing short of an irony that science and religion contradict each other in almost every aspect of life. As science insulated and insured life in various ways, life was prolonged and mortality rate came down. This led to a population explosion and land became a much coveted asset. Burial became such a major issue for the civilized that dying became more expensive than living, thanks to some religious customs and rites of passage.

When a dear departs, memories are left behind. To keep the memories alive, those who are left behind build monuments, memorials and decorative tombs even as the living fail find a place to build a shelter for themselves. This is ridiculous. The best memorial of a person is what he did when he was alive and not what the others do when he is dead. Those who adhere to customs and traditions are unable to suggest a creative way out of this bottleneck. According to the Indian thought, when a person dies his body disintegrates into five natural elements. As flames claim the corpse, everything is over. But the Semitic religions, though they say that ‘from dust you come and unto dust you go’, are in a dilemma now. Where the dead are buried is more overpopulated than where the living dwell. The real estate expenses follow them beyond the borders of life. Even among the dead, the rich have an upper hand.

It has now become very clear that all over the world, the Covid 19 epidemic has made it worse for those who follow the semitic religions, by making their burials really hard, if not impossible.

In the time of Covid epidemic, burial and last rites happen in the absence relatives and the ceremonies are practically unattended.

The sight of the relatives wandering around with no place to bury the dead is excruciatingly painful. It was sorrowful that even those who were close to the church activities could not bury their dead due to protests from the public.

It was at this juncture that the Trichur Rupatha released a radical and progressive circular. It says that in cases where burial becomes a problem, the corpse can be burnt like it was always done in India. It is not only that they have brought out a circular, they have also laid the foundation stone for a gas crematorium at the Damien Institute campus at Mulayam in Trichur. It is highly laudable. It was when some people objected to the burial of a body at the cemetery owned by the Thanchuparambil Church which is under the Irinjalakkuda Roopatha that the diocese took a stand that the corpse may be burned like they always did in India. The idea that the Trichur Rupatha has put forward is a model one which can be taken up by any religion which is finding it hard to have a plae to bury the dead. We should change according to the progress and development in science. If our attitudes and thoughts do not change according to the times, the logical reasoning and ciritical thinking that nature has bestowed us with will be put to waste. History has proof that people who have forgotten God and embraced rites and rituals have also put to death those who stood for truth. The alternatives that the Trichur Rupatha has put forwarded raises our hopes. Let’s not consciously bury the world in a graveyard.

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