The age-old tradition of burning wood to cremate pyre of Hindu dead bodies is becoming more and more unfeasible for the sake of declining forests. As a result, The Kasi Pasumai Yatra, a novel initiative was started in Coimbatore to decrease wood consumption for burning dead bodies.
Under the program, the shells will be collected from all over Coimbatore and will then be powdered and sent to Varanasi – a city famed for it’s moksha-prapti (soul-liberating) funeral.
The founder of the initiative, Mr. R Nithyanandam, had initially planned to burn raw coconut shells. However, he soon realized that it will require 300 kgs of firewood to fulfill the procedure. He said:
”..So we decided to powder the shells. When we used 50 kg of coconut shell powder and 50 kg of firewood, we realised that the body could be cremated easily. This way, we will save 300 kg of firewood per body.”
Apparently, around 800 bodies are burnt everyday on the banks of Ganga. This require anestimated 280 tonnes of firewood. For this around 5 lakh trees are cut down every year to meet this requirement.
Although, the project has garnered much appreciation and has kick started with 140 tonnes of coconut shell powder being already sent to Varanasi, the initial procedure wasn’t an easy feat.
Hindus are conservative and possessive of their traditions and any changes in such rituals are not received openly. It took Nithayanandam 12 trips to Varanasi to finally take his Yatra project underway. He met a number of locals to convince and interest them.
In fact, he had to put Rs 35 lakh as an initial investment to carry out the entire procedure of packaging and transporting from Coimbatore to Varanasi. For the starters, he took it upon himself to travel each house to collect shells on his two wheeler. Gradually, his team of 14 started doing it hands-on.
And now it seems like, all the hard work and noble intention behind it are finally paying off. ”Kasi Pasumai Yatra” is garnering huge interest among environmental enthusiasts and locals equally. Prakash Javadekar, former Environment Minister, has also appreciated the efforts.
The initiative is not just impressive and unique for its idea but is also commendable to be a stepping stone in a problem concerning the urgent and global issue of climate change. After all, each drop counts- and ”Kasi Pasumai Yatra” is proving to be just that. Reach out to ”Kasi Pasumai Yatra” on their Facebook page to show your support.