Woman’s ‘purification ritual’ gets due recognition

Zohra Hamidulla has been finally recognised for her service to the dead.

The service of 66-year-old Zohra Hamidulla to the dead stood out during the felicitation of a dozen elderly people, organised to mark the International Day of Older Persons by the district administration, at Netravathy Hall in Dakshina Kannada Zilla Panchayat building recently.

DKZP President Meenakshi Shantigodu also spoke about Zohra and praised her. She also echoed that Zohra’s dedication to the ‘purification ritual’ was worth emulating.

For the past 15 years, Zohra Hamidulla has been physically cleansing the corpses before being buried in the burial grounds.

She washes the bodies irrespective of age and doesn’t accept any fee.

“Many offered money for washing the bodies of their relatives, but I have always politely refused to accept money,” she said.

The corpses are not merely washed, the contents in the abdomen are also ejected,” she elaborates on the cleansing ritual in the community. The local mosques also seek her service to wash corpses orphaned by their relatives.

“Sometimes the calls to wash bodies comes past midnight. Zohra does not hesitate even for a moment,” Kannada Magazine, ‘Anupama’, Editor M Shahnaz said.

Zohra says her most toughest assignment was washing the charred bodies of passengers who perished in the Air India plane crash in May 2010.

“In some bodies, the entire organs like intestines had spilled out,” she said.

Zohra from Jeppu, Marnamikatte, says because of her family’s support she was able to continue her cleansing ritual and ensured a dignified burial to the dead.

She is also grooming young women by conducting ‘body-washing’ classes. “Many women trained by me are equally dedicated and are service-minded,” Zohra said with a sense of pride.

Zohra’s relative Muthlab said that she also helped the poor in clearing their hospital and marriage expenses.

“She raises funds from her vast network of admirers,” he added.

Zohra, a member of Jamaat-e-Islami Hind, is also a family counselor and has reunited many couples, who were on the verge of splitting. Incidentally, the felicitation at Netravathy Hall was the first ever recognition of her service.

‘Old age homes’

The old age homes should be reduced. Each home should turn into an old age home where the elderly are cared and their needs taken care of, said Karnataka State Retired Employees Association President Vittal Shetty.

Seventy seven-year-old-Shetty was speaking after being felicitated on the account of International Day of Older Persons. Some of the elderly who were felicitated are Anand Alva (103, agriculture), K G Bangera ( 97, govt service), Ramesh Rao (social service), G Anand Soans (78, sports), Zohra (66, social service), K N Sudhakar (61, govt service), Povappa Bhandary (74, barber), Ravindra (74, district legal services authority), Devdas Kamath, K C Janardhan and Dr Rangaiah.

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