Should We Have Grave Indignity in Death?

October 15, 2022

My mother-in-law said, 'One day I will dance on your grave.' I said 'I hope you do; I will be buried at sea.” - Les Dawson (1931-1993) English comedian, actor, and presenter who was best remembered for jokes about his mother-in-law (like this one) and wife.

As it turned out, Les Dawson was buried in Lytham Park Cemetery & Crematorium.

But sea burial is not unknown, the recent and well-known instance being that of Obama Bin Laden who was killed by American soldiers at his hide-out in Pakistan. We had recent instances of finding dead bodies floating in the Ganges – apparently of people who died of Covid pandemic which ravaged the world. In India dead bodies are also burnt to ashes which then are consigned to water bodies like rivers. With wood for burning and land for burying running short and expensive, people are looking for ways of disposing of dead bodies beyond the traditional burial and cremation.

When it comes to India, caste raises its ugly head as reflected in article written by Vittal Shastri and published in Deccan Herald (14/10/22) and excerpted below.

Dalits (low caste people) in various parts of Karnataka continue to face discrimination over community graveyards, forcing them to demand a separate, government-allotted burial ground. Now, the government has begun acquisition of land to develop separate Dalit burial grounds in all gram panchayats in the state. "We have started a drive to acquire land for graveyards for the Dalit community in all 6,020 gram panchayats and town municipalities in the state. We have already provided graveyards in over 1,000 villages to avoid discrimination against Dalits by upper castes. I will ensure that Dalits get graveyards in all villages," said Social Welfare Minister Kota Srinivas Poojary.

Last week, people from privileged castes in Murga (K) village in Kamalanagar taluk of Bidar district disrupted the funeral of a 55-year-old Dalit man. A group of people barged into the public graveyard and asked the Dalits to shift the corpse, claiming that the graveyard was for "upper castes". A similar incident occurred in the village two months ago at the funeral of a BSF jawan.

While some Dalit communities cremate the dead, some bury the corpse. In the absence of a graveyard, members of the community in many villages have resorted to cremation. In most villages, public graveyards allotted by the government are being monopolised by privileged castes. Dalits are left with no choice but to cremate corpses on the banks of rivers or streams in far-off places.

Speaking to Deccan Herald, Bidar Social Welfare Department Deputy Director Girish Ranjolkar said that 84 villages in the district have no graveyards for the

Untouchability has been abolished as per the Constitution, and experts point out that there is no mention of providing a separate burial ground for Dalits in the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989. “The government should take measures to provide separate graveyard land for Dalits to avoid conflict with upper castes. At the same time, it should strive for total eradication of untouchability and gradually create an atmosphere where one graveyard can be used by all communities,” Justice H N Nagamohan Das said.

Thus, it seems that the plan of providing separate and exclusive burial grounds/crematoria will perpetuate a social evil and constitutional/legal provisions.

The subject is open to many views. What are yours? Your response is welcome in the format given below (Pl. scroll down a bit). Once again, welcome to reason.


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By John B Monteiro
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Comment on this article

  • Ambrose Pereira, Bajpe

    Thu, Oct 20 2022

    Rather than discuss the grave indignities at burials, we should discuss about "graver negligence" of our seniors by their near and dear ones when the seniors are living. ... Many seniors are left to their own miseries either in their ancestral homes or in some old-age homes (we can see lots of them around Mangalore city and surrounding villages, some single, some couples). When these lonely parents pass-away, all the 'ever-busy near and dear ones' who left the city-shores for greener pastures (called Australia, Canada, etc.,) and had no time to care for their seniors when the seniors were alive, descend down into the city, just to collect their "fair share" (bank drafts and property shares and whatever little assets the seniors possessed) at the demise of their seniors........ Remember, these "fair share ever busy near and dear ones" were never around to care for the old and sick parents when alive!!! What ensues then is the outside drama called "celebration of life", viewing, you-tube video's and what-not; just to show the world how caring this progeny is while fighting indoors for the crumbs left by the seniors!!!.. Once the doggy-bags are full, everyone leave, many never to return, some happy and some disappointing mad!!!!..... We remember of a sermon by our Italian priest in a Sunday Seniors Mass: He was called for the last sacrament of a known, dying senior in a hospital. Amongst the family members was a man in suit who did not fit-in. Realizing the suited-man was not family, the priest asked who he was and why was he there...... The suited man replied that he is an estate agent, and was there to get the signature of the dying woman so he can make an estate sale on behalf of the kids! Our priest then asked the realtor to vacate the ward, else he would have to call the hospital security...." It does not matter which part of the world we are, this vulture like human greed exists and it is far too graver than the graves themselves.

  • Daniel, Mangalore

    Sat, Oct 15 2022

    This caste, religions are all man made as Holy Scripture says "You are gods or children of the Most High." This caste, religions, self made gods of money, power... all for business or to make money, divide and rule, mostly for enslavement of uneducated, lazy in studying holy scriptures, gullible and ignorant. Be like gods with love, peace, joy, self control, humility, gentleness, kindness, charity, brotherliness, unity... and not like demons of lust, pride, anger, arrogance, hatred, jealousy, greed, gluttony, sloth, rudeness, selfishness, divisions... to enjoy life and to make earth a heaven! Everliving in Spirit than dying early or an eternal death in hell.

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