Amid the lack of facilities and resources, the Holy River Ganga witnessed the end of age-old burial traditions. Now, it’s all about just the rush to bury, owing to the pandemic that made our lives miserable in every possible way.
Moving into the details, just a few days ago, several unidentified bodies were found at the Gahmar Ghat in Ghazipur which happens to be a riverbank of Ganga. In Unnao, not far from Ghazipur, again on the banks of the Ganga, over 200 bodies were seen laying due to the shifting sand after a heavy downpour.
Needless to say, the majority of those were victims of the novel coronavirus. The current economic situations have even made the last rites a burden as with the second wave, the whole cremation cost has raised to a whopping amount of 10,000 INR according to a man, Pradeep Kumar who lives in this place.
Describing the situation there, Pradeep Kumar recalls that a local resident was buried a few days ago here, and due to the rains, sand was washed away, his body was found by dogs and the rest is needless to say. In recent days, I have seen a number of people who couldn’t afford the cremation prices.
At the Gahmar Ghat, which is 7 km from the Bihar border, the district officials, police, and residents have been busy trying to dispose of the bodies, either by cremating them or by burying them deep in the sand over the last three days. “It is a sight that I never witnessed before. We are using boats to pull bodies to the shore. There could not have been fewer than 80 bodies,” said a woman who worked at the Gahmar Ghat for several years.
Upon examining the situation, the district administration has issued a clear statement asking the public to stop burials. On Friday i.e, on the 13th of March, the UP government said they will deploy the State Disaster Response Force and the Jal Police for patrolling on all the rivers in the state to ensure that bodies are not dumped in rivers and are cremated by burning completely.
“Two days ago, the situation worsened when several bodies were buried under the sand in Baksar and are now floating in the banks of rivers due to heavy rainfall. Burial is a tradition but we are trying to convince people to go for cremation which can be best in the present situation,” said Unnao District Magistrate Ravindra Kumar.
Seeing the COVID-19 situation, as of May 1, Ghazipur had 421 new cases and total active cases of 5,439 with 122 deaths in all. By May 13, there were 249 new cases, and 2,804 active cases with 199 deaths.
Instead of a proper adieu, people are forced to throw bodies into the water just because they can’t afford the cremation prices. As COVID-19 took a bad toll on our lives, it is heartbreaking to see even the last rites cannot be performed with proper traditions. A pandemic that has put age-old traditions behind with its deep economical crisis where even last rites have become a burden to those who lost their loved ones, just wishing and praying for things to go back where there were fights for everything but just not for a piece of land to cremate the dead.