Christians who die from COVID-19 caught between cremation and burial

A municipal ordinance initially required cremation, but a State Minorities Minister opposed it. Coronavirus victims can now be buried but in big cemeteries. Card Gracias advises the faithful to cremate their dead.

Mumbai (AsiaNews) – Under an ordinance issued by the Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai (MCGM), people who die from COVID-19 had to be cremated.

This directive failed to take into account the different traditions of Muslims, Christians and Parsees (Zoroastrians). The first two prefer to bury their dead whilst the latter use excarnation on dakhmas, towers of silence.

Fear of contagion has sparked opposition in many parts of the country, with people blocking Christian burials for example.

In March, in Mumbai, local authorities issued an ordinance requiring the cremation of all coronavirus victims because of the pandemic. Maharashtra's Minority Development Minister Nawab Malik immediately challenged the directive.

A few hours later, another ordinance was issued authorising burials, provided they take place in cemeteries that are large enough to avoid infecting nearby areas.

For Christians, the problem is that, unlike Muslims, they don’t have large cemeteries since they are few in numbers.

In the end, the Municipal Corporation has authorised Christians who died as a result of COVID-19 to be buried in designated areas in four cemeteries: Matunga East, Worli, Juhu Koliwada and Deonar. (N.C.)