Unclaimed Ashes Of 1,200 Covid Victims Submerged In Bengaluru.
Wrapped in white cloth and marked only with numbered stickers, dozens of clay pots lie unclaimed at the Sumanahalli crematorium in suburban Bengaluru, where the ashes of Covid victims have been accumulating.
The urns were then transported for a mass immersion ritual by the river with the rest of the uncollected ash from Bangalore on Wednesday, a total of 1,200 unaccounted for virus victims.
The immersion ritual on the banks of the Cauvery River in Karnataka comes as India battles a fierce second wave of infections that has killed 160,000 people in eight weeks, overwhelming the country’s healthcare system and crematoria.
Many families have not come to look for hundreds of their relatives’ ashes in Bangalore.
Some are too poor to perform the rituals and others are afraid of catching the virus in packed crematoria where the pyres burn non-stop, workers say.
“In a family, two or three members could have succumbed to the crown and some people fear contracting the infection, so they don’t want to take (the ashes),” Kiran Kumar, a contractor at TR Mills Crematorium in Bengaluru, told AFP .
That forced authorities eager to get rid of the piled debris to take matters into their own hands, organizing a ceremony led by priests and Karnataka state official R Ashoka in the village of Belakavadi, located about 125 kilometers away. from Bangalore.
Before its immersion, the ashes were deposited on a platform by the river, the clay pots dotted with red flowers and surrounded by garlands of yellow marigolds.
Ashoka, the state finance minister, dipped the first set of unclaimed ash into the river.
Municipal workers placed the rest in a boat, a small, light boat, and submerged the pots, in some cases without the knowledge of the bereaved families who did not pick them up.