Ahmedabad, June 12 (IANS) — Muktidham crematorium in Sidhpur, about 125 km north of this main city of Gujarat, will from Saturday give those who can’t attend the funeral a chance to watch the rituals live via Internet.
The crematorium will on its fourth anniversary install a video camera near one of its seven pyres to facilitate webcast.
Ashok Acharya, who manages the crematorium, was quoted as saying in a report that technology could come to the aid of relatives who cannot be present at the crematorium because of distance. He noted that for non-resident Indians (NRIs), it is sometimes difficult to make the long journey home in time for the last rites.
Hindus consider Sidhpur-Patan, located on the “banks” of the mythical river Saraswati, the most sacred place for the last rites of mothers. Gaya in Bihar is similarly considered the most sacred place for the last rites of fathers.
The crematorium, run by the Shri Saraswati Muktidham Trust, will offer the webcasting facility free of charge, though the project is going to cost it Rs.150,000.
The trust offers all facilities at the crematorium at token charges. Wood for the pyres is available for just one rupee. The hearse is available for the same charge to bring bodies from within 40 km. For distances beyond that, only the cost of fuel is charged.
As a large number of people choose Sidhpur to cremate their loved ones, the trust decided four years ago to develop a modern day crematorium. Today it attracts people from faraway places.
The crematorium wears the looks of a theme park with a garden, swings, carved arches, idols of deities and fountains, the serene surroundings making it a little easier to bear the pain of deep personal loss.
Muktidham runs a subsidised canteen too where the relatives of the deceased and those who attend the last rites can eat traditional post-rites meals.
“The idea behind Muktidham is to offer a soothing ambience,” said Gautam Dave, the chairman of the trust that runs the crematorium.
The idea of creating a soothing atmosphere at a crematorium is not new to Gujarat.
Manekbai Sukhdham in Jamnagar, 313 km west of here, was the first to introduce the concept. Popularly known as adarsh samshan (ideal crematorium)’, it has now become a fixture on the tourist itinerary.
After its total renovation with donations from leading citizens in 1952, the crematorium acquired a beautiful garden, a large waiting hall and a library. A facility for mass dips in hot water was also added. Inside, more than 100 statues of deities and saints are installed.
The Aswinikumar crematorium in Surat and a crematorium in Rajkot too attract a lot of visitors. A crematorium run on solar energy is coming up in Valsad in south Gujarat.
Shantidham Rotary crematorium in Ankleshwar, about 180 south from here, has earned ISO-14001 certification, a unique achievement for any such facility. The eco-friendly crematorium uses natural gas, abundantly available in the region, instead of wood or electricity to burn the pyres. It too has a garden with fountains and idols of gods and goddesses.
© Copyright 2003 IANS India Private Limited, New Delhi. Posted on Religioscope with permission.