Kerala church opens its gates for cremation of Hindu woman

Fr Varghese Mathilakathukuzhy and parishioners witness the funeral of Omana inside the cemetery of St Joseph's Church, Ramankary on Thursday. Photo: Special Arrangement

Alappuzha: In these trying times, yet another fine example of communal harmony has emerged from Kerala.

A catholic church in the Ramankary village of Alappuzha district opened its gates for the cremation of a Hindu woman whose family did not have adequate land to perform the last rites.'

On Thursday morning, Omana, 68, wife of late Purushothaman Achary died. It soon dawned on the bereaved family that a funeral pyre cannot be set on their modest plot.

"The family members approached me and raised their concern and I did not have to think twice," Fr Varghese Mathilakathukuzhy, vicar of St Joseph's Church, Ramankary told Onmanorama.

The parish priest gave them his word, which was to make the necessary arrangements for the cremation. "The church premises can be used for the rituals and the cemetery for the funeral," the priest told them.

It was only later that Fr Mathilakathukuzhy apprised the church's council members and the parishioners of his decision. The priest said that the response was unanimous: Let's help them.

According to the vicar, most of the parishioners knew the family of the departed. Omana's son has worked as a carpenter at the church.

Fr Mathilakathukuzhy had also notified the church's special task force comprising 25 youngsters, who regularly volunteer to participate in flood-relief and covid containment measures, to be ready to help.

"Everyone was willing to help," said the priest, who works as a librarian at St Aloysius College, Edathua.

By 3 pm the relatives of the deceased were welcomed into the church premises where they held the rituals and paid their respects to Omana.

Later, the church committee arranged the funeral pyre inside the cemetery. "Humanitarian consideration has to be valued by one and all, especially in these difficult times of COVID," said Fr Mathilakathukuzhy, content that the members of his church performed their duty as good samaritans.

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