Ganga's pollution forces change in tradition

Ganga's pollution forces change in tradition

Adoption of land burial instead of the traditional water burial from now

Ganga's pollution forces change in tradition

Rising pollution in the Ganga river has forced the Hindu sadhus to shun the “Jal Samadhi” (burial in water), which has been an age old tradition.

Breaking away from the tradition, the various  the‘akharas’ (organizations of different sects of Hindu religion), which have gathered from across the country, have decided that the saints and sadhus would henceforth be given land burial instead of the traditional water burial in view of the rising pollution in the Ganga river.

The initiative taken by the “akharas” has found support from the religious heads and others.

General secretary of India's biggest akhara Juna Akhara Mahant Hari Giri said that the decision had been taken to preserve the sanctity of the holy river.

“We have asked the state government to earmark land for the burial of sadhus at the sangam (confluence of the Ganges, Yamuna and mythical Sarswati rivers) so that they could be given land burial,” he added.

Mahant Hari Giri said that according to the state government officials, Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav has promised to look into the demand and take necessary action.

He made it clear that there would be no need for creating any pucca (made of concrete) structure at the Sangam. “The structure could be used for another samadhi after a period of six years,” he said.

The saints feel that if the governments of respective states give land for burial on the banks of the rivers like the Ganga, Yamuna, Kshipra, Godavari, Sutlej, Narmada, Sarayu and others, the problem of pollution could be resolved to some extent.

Another saint Bramhaswaroop Brahmachari also sought a ban on water burial immediately and welcomed the initiative by the sadhus at Mahakumbh. He said that one of the objectives of the water burial was to make sure that the aquatic animals could feed on the body after the death. “Now the aquatic life itself is under threat owing to pollution,” he added.

There are some opponents of the idea as well.  “How many sadhus are given water burial in a year....there are very few of them...what about the discharge of sewage and untreated effluents from the industries...why is the government not stopping that?” said Swami Tapananda  Giri, who is associated with the Anand Akhara. Water burial is an age old tradition. It is followed by the sadhus of the “Nath” and “Naga” sects.