October 15, 2022
“My mother-in-law said, 'One day I will dance on your grave.' I said 'I hope you do; I will be buried at sea.” - Les Dawson (1931-1993) English comedian, actor, and presenter who was best remembered for jokes about his mother-in-law (like this one) and wife.
As it turned out, Les Dawson was buried in Lytham Park Cemetery & Crematorium.
But sea burial is not unknown, the recent and well-known instance being that of Obama Bin Laden who was killed by American soldiers at his hide-out in Pakistan. We had recent instances of finding dead bodies floating in the Ganges – apparently of people who died of Covid pandemic which ravaged the world. In India dead bodies are also burnt to ashes which then are consigned to water bodies like rivers. With wood for burning and land for burying running short and expensive, people are looking for ways of disposing of dead bodies beyond the traditional burial and cremation.
When it comes to India, caste raises its ugly head as reflected in article written by Vittal Shastri and published in Deccan Herald (14/10/22) and excerpted below.
Dalits (low caste people) in various parts of Karnataka continue to face discrimination over community graveyards, forcing them to demand a separate, government-allotted burial ground. Now, the government has begun acquisition of land to develop separate Dalit burial grounds in all gram panchayats in the state. "We have started a drive to acquire land for graveyards for the Dalit community in all 6,020 gram panchayats and town municipalities in the state. We have already provided graveyards in over 1,000 villages to avoid discrimination against Dalits by upper castes. I will ensure that Dalits get graveyards in all villages," said Social Welfare Minister Kota Srinivas Poojary.
Last week, people from privileged castes in Murga (K) village in Kamalanagar taluk of Bidar district disrupted the funeral of a 55-year-old Dalit man. A group of people barged into the public graveyard and asked the Dalits to shift the corpse, claiming that the graveyard was for "upper castes". A similar incident occurred in the village two months ago at the funeral of a BSF jawan.
While some Dalit communities cremate the dead, some bury the corpse. In the absence of a graveyard, members of the community in many villages have resorted to cremation. In most villages, public graveyards allotted by the government are being monopolised by privileged castes. Dalits are left with no choice but to cremate corpses on the banks of rivers or streams in far-off places.
Speaking to Deccan Herald, Bidar Social Welfare Department Deputy Director Girish Ranjolkar said that 84 villages in the district have no graveyards for the
Untouchability has been abolished as per the Constitution, and experts point out that there is no mention of providing a separate burial ground for Dalits in the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989. “The government should take measures to provide separate graveyard land for Dalits to avoid conflict with upper castes. At the same time, it should strive for total eradication of untouchability and gradually create an atmosphere where one graveyard can be used by all communities,” Justice H N Nagamohan Das said.
Thus, it seems that the plan of providing separate and exclusive burial grounds/crematoria will perpetuate a social evil and constitutional/legal provisions.
The subject is open to many views. What are yours? Your response is welcome in the format given below (Pl. scroll down a bit). Once again, welcome to reason.