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Pandemic Complicates Hindu Cremation Funeral Rites

Indian Hindu man Jeet Bahadur Singh (L) prays along with priests as he watches his wife's cremation at the Panchavati Amar Dham crematorium in Nashik, 28 August 2003 some 187 kms (116 miles) north of Bombay.  At least 45 people were killed and more than 70 injured in a 27 August stampede by Hindu worshippers rushing to bathe in one of western India's holiest rivers at the Kumbh festival held every three years.  AFP PHOTO/INDRANIL MUKHERJEE  (Photo credit should read INDRANIL MUKHERJEE/AFP via Getty Images)
Indian Hindu man Jeet Bahadur Singh (L) prays along with priests as he watches his wife's cremation at the Panchavati Amar Dham crematorium in Nashik, 28 August 2003 some 187 kms (116 miles) north of Bombay. At least 45 people were killed and more than 70 injured in a 27 August stampede by Hindu worshippers rushing to bathe in one of western India's holiest rivers at the Kumbh festival held every three years. AFP PHOTO/INDRANIL MUKHERJEE (Photo credit should read INDRANIL MUKHERJEE/AFP via Getty Images)

In Hinduism, cremation is traditionally the most important part of the funeral rites. Hindus believe the body must be destroyed to force the soul to separate from it.

But many crematoriums have had to build makeshift funeral pyres due to the pandemic.

Here & Now‘s Tonya Mosley speaks with Prakash Rao Velagapudi, chairman of the Karya Siddhi Hanuman Temple in Frisco, Texas, about the religious beliefs behind cremation in India.

This article was originally published on WBUR.org.

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