Cremation Customs Pollute Ganges River

The Ganga in Allahabad is being polluted by the tradition of immersing cremated corpses. When Ajeet was in the 9th Standard, he had himself participated in the Hindu custom of immersing the dead in the Ganga river, which is considered holy. “That time, I didn’t think about it. I was upset that my cousin had died and I didn’t realize what I was doing. But now, I have many environmentalist friends who told me that I can’t drink water from the Ganga anymore because it is so polluted. They explained all the things that people are doing which are making the waters dirty. I felt so bad.” Although there is a law in place to avoid further pollution of the river waters, it has never been enforced. It is because of ignorance on the part of the community and apathy on the part of the police that no one has been charged, fined or even remonstrated with. Ajeet says,“The law has to be enforced, yes, but not only be the police. Everyone who bathes in the river, who drinks its water, has to realize what they’re doing. They should burn their bodies in a crematorium so that the remains are disposed of properly.” Ajeet’s own family partakes in this tradition. He says he has tried to convince them many times but they won’t listen. “It is up to us who know better to keep trying. It’s an ongoing process. I’ve realized that these traditions cause more bad than good, so I’ve stopped doing them. Hopefully others will also realize this.”

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