The Delhi neighborhood of Punjabi Bagh public cremation grounds has decided to no longer allow a pyre service to anyone who is confirmed to have passed from COVID-19.
In India it’s common that families take their departed home after a passing to perform sacred rights, as is inline with many religious beliefs and traditions. Today’s lockdown, curfews, and fear of coronavirus though have families bringing the departed immediately to the cremation areas.
The head priest of one of the noted cremation grounds in the capital, Pankaj Sharma, said, “In case a person who has died of COVID-19 is cremated here, the family will be informed to send the body to the Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) machine.” in his opinion, “the virus can spread with the fumes” and also, “it’s just a decision that has been made”. While there is no evidence to support that coronavirus can be spread through the fumes of a pyre, this is the decision of the Punjabi Bagh officials.
Cremation ground precautions
To protect the staff and the community, even those who do not die of coronavirus for now will no longer have the option of being reclothed or showered in holy water as is standard in some last rights. Additionally there will be a limit of 10 – 15 guests allowed per family.
Mr. Sharma said “as people enter and exit, not only are they asked to wash hands but also are provided with sanitizers,” adding that chairs, gates and the entire premises is being sanitized first thing every morning.