This gravedigger picked up from where her husband left off

M. Mariyai  

M. Mariyai, a 60-year-old woman from Crawford, single-handedly takes care of burials and cremations at the Ramachandra Nagar burial ground.

She took over after her husband, a burial ground worker, died 17 years ago.

Every day on the job is different, Mariyai said. “Whether it is morning or night, I come to the burial ground when called.”

Her husband, Muthaiyan, was returning home after grazing the cows when a vehicle hit him and he succumbed to injuries. He used to take care of the burial ground until then.

After his death, it was expected that their son would take up the job. “He was not up to it, so I decided to take it up,” she said.

Mariyai used to help out her husband with digging the graves and lowering the bodies into them. “He used to say that women were not allowed to do this work, but in hindsight that served as a training,” she said.

She lives close to the burial ground located in Edamalaipattipudur and rushes to the place any time of the day, a former ward councillor told The Hindu.

Apart from digging graves, she also accompanies families to crematoriums in the city to assist in performance of the last rites. “Families call me and ask if I can go with them to help with the process, as they do not know the staff at the crematoriums. I oblige.”

Now, as she grows older, Mariyai is unable to dig the graves on her own. “I take help from another worker to dig the graves. As I grow older, I wonder who will do my job after me,” she says.

There was severe opposition from neighbours and other men who wanted to take up the job, Mariyai recollected. “They would try to find ways to convince me not to go to work. They would come to my house and tell my family members that women were not permitted to do it, but I persevered,” she said.

Our code of editorial values

This article is closed for comments.
Please Email the Editor

Printable version | Aug 2, 2021 5:22:30 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Tiruchirapalli/this-gravedigger-picked-up-from-where-her-husband-left-off/article34935187.ece

Next Story