PATNA: Breaking the age-old tradition, villagers from twin Indian states of Bihar and Jharkhand are now slowly turning to cow-dung bricks/cakes, instead of firewood, to cremate the dead.
Reason? They say the idea will save environment and also cut cost.
Right now, the fresh initiative has been launched by Sriganga Goshala, a protective shelter for cows at Katras town in Jharkhand’s Dhanbad district.
So far, at least 50 cremations have been done using the unconventional method since its launch in August last year. The first one to be cremated was Shiv Bhagwan Agarwal.
“Using cow-dung for cremation will not only cut the cost but also save environment. Also, the cow-dung doesn’t emit poisonous gases when burnt,” patron of the Sriganga Goshala, Surendra Agarwal said.
Under Hindu mythology, it requires at least 350 kg of firewood, preferably mango tree logs which are considered holy, to cremate the dead. That means an entire tree has to be felled to cremate a single body.
Also, it costs something between Rs 7,000 to 8,000 to procure the requite quantity of firewood which is too costly for the poor families living in abject poverty.
On the other hand, the cow-dung bricks cost only around Rs 3,000. Under such situation, the use of cow-dung could indeed prove to be a boon for the common men in the long run.
“We can save the fast-depleting cover of greenery if we promote cow-dung for cremation,” Agarwal explained.
According to him, initially the people hesitated in using cow-dung to cremate the bodies but now they are slowly coming forward.
Bihar too has turned to this unconventional method for cremation and right now, this practice is being followed in Darbhanga district.
Here in the case, however, the villagers have been using cow-dung cakes for cremations.
According to villagers, they place the body in sitting position inside a well-like ditch dug out with the help of co-villagers and then cover it from all sides with cow dung cakes before setting it afire which reduces the body to ashes.
Villagers say such cremation is not only cheaper and time-saving but is also adding up to the conservation of energy and making up the fast going ecological imbalances.
The villagers turned to this unconventional method as the traditional practice was posing a severe threat to the trees.
Officials said earlier the practice was wide in use in the flood-prone areas only where the people were finding it difficult to consign the body to flames owing to lack of firewood and enough space during the floods but now even towns in Darbhnaga are using the cow-dung cakes.
Featured image caption: cow-dung bricks
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