After mass cremation in Bengaluru, mass immersion at Mandya: Unclaimed ashes of 850 COVID victims immersed in Cauvery

After mass cremation in Bengaluru, mass immersion at Mandya: Unclaimed ashes of 850 COVID victims immersed in Cauvery

June 3, 2021
  • Revenue Minister R. Ashok leads rituals; gives dignity to the dead 

Mandya: COVID infection is dangerous but is it so dangerous that even after death there is a risk of infection? When an infected patient dies, the body is completely sanitised and given to the family for cremation in a leak-proof plastic body bag but the family members are even afraid to take the ashes after the funeral for immersion in holy rivers. 

The Karnataka Government has taken on itself the task of immersion of ashes and yesterday afternoon, ashes of over 850 COVID-19 victims in Bengaluru were immersed in the Cauvery in a ceremony near Belakavadi village in Malavalli taluk of Mandya district. The feat gave dignity to the dead and Revenue Minister R. Ashok himself led the rituals that were supervised by noted astrologer and Vedic scholar Dr. Bhanuprakash Sharma and a team of 12 priests. 

Ashok was accompanied by Mandya District Minister K.C. Narayanagowda, MLA Annadani, Deputy Commissioner S. Aswathi and the event was held at River Cauvery near Kashi Vishwanathaswamy Temple. 

Following a spike in the number of deaths, the State Government had organised mass cremations in Bengaluru at Tavarekere and Giddenahalli open-air crematoria where over 850 bodies were burnt and the ashes were gathered and stored for the family members to collect. However, many families refused to collect the ashes fearing the stigma attached to the infected patients. 

More and more families refused to turn up to collect ashes despite appeals and as a result, the urns piled up. That’s when the Government took up the task of last rites and this is the first mass immersion of ashes on such a scale. The urns included of those entire families that were wiped out by COVID. 

As per traditions

Hindus cremate their dead and the ashes are scattered over rivers considered sacred or over some other place of importance to the deceased. At the event, puja rituals like Maha Ganapathi puja, akala marana prayaschitha, Narayana bali, pinda pradhana and asthinarayana puja were performed. The Ministers sat in front of kalasha and homa kundala to perform the rituals as directed by the priests. 

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The last rites were held as per the religious background of the deceased. While the unclaimed bodies of Christians and Muslims were buried as per their traditions, the bodies of Hindus were cremated and the ashes immersed in the river. 

“Today, we are immersing ashes in the Cauvery River. It is considered holy and it will help reach heaven. The families of those who died, for various reasons, could not collect the ashes. They are going through difficult times. The Government is sharing the pain with them and trying to step into the part of the family. It is an emotional issue for us all, brothers and sisters of Karnataka people. It is my duty as Revenue Minister to do this sacred task,” Ashok told reporters. 

The Minister also said that distressing scenes from North India, of the disposal of bodies, were a factor in his action. “We are seeing in the Ganga, thousands of bodies of those who died in COVID times,” he said. “The birds are eating …This is a shame to us. So we decided to give a respectful farewell to all the bodies. That is my duty,” he added. 

Mandya SP Ashwini, former BBMP Commissioner Manjunatha Prasad, Additional DC Shailaja, Assistant Commissioner Aishwarya, Tahsildar M. Vijayanna and others were present. 


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