Ashes of hundreds of pyres burnt here wait to be immersed in the holy Ganges in Haridwar, as the lockdown and curfew continues amid the COVID-19 spread. The lockers at cremation grounds for keeping the ashes are full, and the custodians of the cremation grounds are advising people to tie the urns, filled with ashes of the departed souls, with the branches of trees at the cremation grounds.
A custodian of the Sector 25 Cremation Ground, Baldev Pandit says, “We have around one hundred small lockers for keeping the ashes, but all these lockers are filled. People are not being allowed to enter Haryana and Uttarakhand for traveling to Haridwar. A pass issued from the Chandigarh administration cannot allow someone to travel till Haridwar. So many people were sent back from the Uttarakhand border. Now, when no space is left for keeping the ashes, we are tying the ashes filled urns with the trees. The people, who are not keen to leave the ashes there, are tying the urns with trees located near their houses. In Hindu belief, a departed soul gains complete peace after the deceased’s ashes are immersed in Ganges. As the curfew will end, people will take these urns to the Gangs ghats. Meanwhile, the Sikhs are being allowed to go to Kiratpur Sahib to immerse the ashes of the deceased.”
Chandigarh has four cremation grounds and locker facilities are provided only at Sector 25 and Mani Majra cremation grounds. The lockdown and the COVID-19 spread has also resulted in thinned out crowd in funerals and gatherings at the cremation ground.
A Sector 4 resident, 85-year-old Krishan Devi passed away last night due to her long illness. One of her relatives and Sector 49 resident, Shakuntla Devi said, “Only nine of us came here for the cremation. If the COVID-19 was not an issue, there would be a gathering of over 200 people. Krishna Devi had a huge family. Her husband was a senior army officer. Her son, Balram, is a well-settled businessman. However, only very close relatives were informed about the demises of Krishan Devi and most of them were advised to not come to the cremation ground.” Krishan Devi’s pyre was lit by her son, Balram, in the presence of the handful people.
Caretaker of the Mani Majra cremation ground, Gaurav Sharma said, “The UT administration allows maximum of 20 people to attend the cremation. Surprisingly, local people themselves are not encouraging others to attend the cremation. Even the last rites are being performed silently. Before lockdown, thousands of people came here for attending the cremation. Since March 23, this has completely changed. We also advised people to come in minimum numbers. On an average, five to six cremation rites are held here everyday.”
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