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Kerala sets an example: Catholic Church allows Hindu cremation for woman in its graveyard

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The last rites are performed in a cemetery of a local Catholic Church following all the customs and rituals of Hindu tradition. This happened on July 13 when good Samaritans in Ramankari village of Alappuzha district started looking for a place to rest a humble woman. Her family did not have enough land to set up a funeral pyre and the recent rains had inundated all nearby properties in Kuttanad village, forcing them to look for alternative solutions.

The group’s sincere effort to help the family in distress was eventually responded to by the local Catholic Church, who allowed cremations to take place following all Hindu customs.

Omana Purushothaman, 63, was in bed for some time before she passed away on Friday morning. She was suffering from Alzheimer’s and the family was in financial trouble as her son Omanakuttan was the sole breadwinner in the family. He lived in a small house on his 2.5 cents of land, which depended entirely on his meager income from carpentry.

CPM branch secretary Saravanan said, “Ramankari gram panchayat does not have a public cremation ground. Various organizations like KPMS, SNDP etc. have land plots which have been used by all the people for cremation, but all of them got flooded. Is.”

Omanakuttan is a member of the CPM and the local leadership of the party had been helping the family members for some time.

Saravanan, who is actively involved in the efforts, said, “Omanakuttan used to take good care of his mother. Sadly she was not the only sick person in the family. Omanakuttan’s young child is a kidney patient, which can help her financial issues. And growing.”

“The plot on which the house stands is the only property of the family. The house and the main alleyway cover the lion’s share, leaving little or no room for the pyre to be lit. Their immediate neighbors are ready to help. But incessant rains meant that their land was completely submerged in water,” said Llichan Spiral, a member of the local parish.

“The family lives near Ramankari St. Joseph’s Church. Omanakuttan is regularly hired by the church and when his mother passed away, he shared his grief with me. I contacted my vicar, who did the rest. We had formed the volunteer squad. The 2018 floods also helped in making arrangements,” said Lalichan, who is also an office-bearer of the ‘Pitrivedi’ wing of the parish.

The church’s Vicar Father Varghese Mathilakathukuzhi said he was at Edathua’s college, where he works, when the news reached him. Father Varghese said he was sure it could be done, although procedures had to be followed as they required the approval of the Parish Council.

“Omanakuttan’s family has complete freedom to seek the help of the church. I immediately held the parish council virtually and put forward the idea of ​​letting them use the cemetery. Amazingly, there were no objections and we took Omana’s family for the next half year.” Told about his wish. One hour,” he said.

Soon, arrangements were made for Omana to be cremated in the church premises before her last rites were performed at the cemetery at 3 pm in the presence of Father Varghese and other local residents.

The happy priest said, “It was a great experience for all of us. Ramankari is a place of harmony and brotherhood of people. Now, the church is going to distribute Onam kits to all the residents of the area.”

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