Karachi, a big city and the financial capital of Pakistan is chaotic, loud and brash, however inside the premises of a century-old crematorium in Lyari town, there are few sounds. Presently, only birds are its occupants who leave the shade of a nearby neem tree to feed on the dried rice left behind by Hindu families.
According to a Geo TV report, the crematorium was constructed during the British rule which is spread over 22-acres. It is Karachi’s biggest cremation facility for Pakistani Hindus. Yet, it is quiet. It is rare for it to be buzzing with activity.
It is believed that Pakistani Hindus only cremate dead bodies. But, 80 percent of the approximately seven million Hindus bury their dead instead.
The dead bodies are buried because a large chunk of the Hindu population belongs to the lower caste. These families live in southern Sindh and are poor and marginalised.
A cremation ritual can cost between Rs 8, 000 to Rs 15, 000, since wood, dry coconuts, joss sticks and dry fruits need to be arranged.
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In 1899, a large number of people were dying due to hunger and diseases. Since arranging to cremate the bodies was costly and difficult, people buried the dead in mass graves. This practice continues to this day.
Present day practice
“In Hinduism, it is believed that the human body is made of five elements – earth, water, fire, air and sky. When a person dies, each of these elements return to its origin. The soul goes back to the sky. The body meets fire, its smoke meets [the] air and the ashes are immersed into water,” said a priest, according to the Geo TV report.
Hence, in order to ensure that some requirements of the fiery dissolution are intact, Hindus burn a part of the corpse before putting it underground, such as a hand or a foot with joss sticks.
Local Hindus rubbish claim that they forced to bury their dead bodies
A scepticism, gaining much traction recently, is that Hindus in Pakistan are forced to bury the dead due to lack of crematoriums and facilities for them to perform their religious rites in the country. But the local community rubbishes such claims, suggested the Geo TV report.