In Delhi, cremations possible, but not immersions

Some urns placed on the ground inside a room at the Lodi Road cremation ground in New Delhi as relatives delay the immersion of ashes due to the COVID-19 lockdown.   | Photo Credit: Amit Baruah

Amid the ongoing lockdown, cremations are possible but not immersions. That’s what many have discovered after they cremated parents, siblings and friends at the Lodhi Road shamshan, or cremation ground, in New Delhi.

The Yamuna River in Delhi or the Ganga at Garhmukteshwar, a two-hour drive from Delhi, is used by many Hindus to immerse the ashes of their dead after cremation rites. But, with the strict coronavirus lockdown in place, many people have opted to delay immersion.

“You can see this room is full of urns containing ashes. People are storing the ashes in an urn (or kalash) here so that they can do the immersion after the lockdown is lifted,” Dharminder, a pandit at the Lodhi Road shamshan, told The Hindu on Tuesday.

“In many cases, the children [of the dead] are abroad and are unable to even perform cremation rites. And, with all flights non-operational, they are doing the next best thing by storing the ash-filled urns for future immersion,” Dharminder stated.

He stands inside a small room with some urns stacked neatly and others placed on the ground as space runs out. All the urns are labelled with the name of the dead person and the address so that there is no chance of mishandling.

Dharminder, who has been a pandit at the cremation ground for many years, said he has never seen such a situation before. “If this [lockdown] situation continues, we will have to find more space to store these urns,” he added.

Cremations, too, have become small affairs at Lodhi Road. Getting to the cremation ground is not easy for most people, but policemen are usually cooperative in letting people through, even without a pass, for funerals.

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Printable version | Mar 6, 2021 10:37:58 AM |

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