Turning over a new leaf-

transformation Volunteers engaged in cleaning the premises of Nemmadi, a burial site in Sirsi.

Residents walk inside this place with a smile on their face. Cold wind blowing gently through the wild gooseberry and chikoo trees soothe the mind and heart of the visitors. On every Sunday, people from different walks of life don’t miss to visit this place and contribute to voluntary labour. This place has hosted a large number of literary, musical and cultural programmes. No wonder, a visit here takes the residents to a different world. 

It is neither a religious centre nor a tourist destination, but a crematorium called Nemmadi.

The crematorium, spread over two-and-half-acre land near Sirsi, off Yellapur-Kumta Road, has not only rewritten the meaning of a crematorium but also generated a thought process for positive environs in crematoriums and burial places elsewhere.

Housed in small forest land, the crematorium has hosted hundreds of book release functions, classical music concerts, intellectual debates, yoga and meditation camps and Yakshagana classes.

Green environs

Nemmadi can accommodate about 50 people in its premises. Change of environs in Nemmadi surely ward off fear, sorrows and sense of losing everything in life whenever we think of burial grounds.  

Inside Nemmadi, natural grass has grown all over the ground. Coconut, mango and jackfruit trees enhance the beauty of the surroundings.

A tiny structure reminding a monk in meditative posture placed on top of the building has given a spiritual touch to it. An open shed with four cradles for burning the bodies has been named Sadgati. 

It all began in early 2000s. Prior to 2003, this place presented a different picture. Ash, glowing coal, flames, sobbing, weeping and crying of people would welcome people living opposite to the cremation once they opened doors in the morning.

“It was Dr A N Patavardhan who dreamt of the change,” V P Hegde, vice-president, Vidyanagar Burial Ground Committee recalls. After his demise, Kashinath Moody, a freedom fighter, continued the works of Patavardhan. A team of 13 trustees assist him in rendering selfless services, says Hegde.

The committee members implemented several initiatives so that the visitors entered with a smile, burying sorrow and fear. “As a first step, we constructed a kuteera. Gradually, we organised varied programmes,” Hegde adds.

On the first day of every month, ‘Masada Matu’ (monthly talk), is held. It has completed 170 editions till date. Nemmadi hosted over 120 programmes in 2018.

Clean, pleasant environs, proverbial statements on the walls make the visitors forget that they are actually visiting a crematorium. Hegde adds, “There is a ban on planting Acacia in Malnad region as it depletes groundwater, but we’ve planted them across the border of the crematorium. These trees supply about 30% of the wood required to burn the bodies. We’ve grown horticulture crops wherever the land is available. The number of trees has crossed 400.” 

In addition, the centre houses a unique library. The committee members have collected rare books and old newspapers here. The proverbial statements on walls of the buildings here reflect the essence of human existence and life’s universal truth.

Lines on a portion of the wall reads thus: ‘The adage Do or Die is outdated now, Do Something Before Your Death!’; ‘Truth is Immortal But Death is the Ultimate Truth!’

Leading by example

When I met Moody, he was cleaning the ground with a broom. It was his birthday, and he was celebrating it by cleaning the crematorium!

“Industrialists, businessmen and employees have formed the Shrama Seva Samiti. They render services every Sunday morning. They engage themselves in construction works, besides planting and watering saplings. The floor of the Sadgati acts as a playing ground for children to play various games. What else do you need to be happy?” Moodi asked. 

“This is the temple for the last journey from mortal world to the immortal world. Our intention was to create spiritual environs. Our motto was to make people take bath at their houses and then visit Nemmadi. We didn’t want them to take bath after visiting this place. Our dream has come true,” Hegde signed off.

The committee members may be contacted on 9845354095.

(Translated by Jagadish Angadi)

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