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Mass cremations in Nepal as quake body count rises

Tuesday, Apr 28, 2015,21:46 IST By metrovaartha A A A

Kathmandu | The famous Pashupatinath Ghat has become one of the busiest places in Nepal’s capital with bodies of earthquake victims being cremated on a mass scale, a sombre reminder of the enormity of the tragedy that has now claimed over 5,000 lives.
Located near the 5th century Pashupatinath Temple, the Ghat which usually sees the cremation of around 20-30 corpses everyday, is experiencing a surge in bodies being brought in, officials said. The Timber Corporation of Nepal, a government undertaking, which would earlier sell firewood for Rs 10 per kg, is now giving it for free. Over the past three days over 1,000 bodies have been cremated, said Srikrishna Dangol, manager of the store that sells material required for last rites.
The inflow of bodies is such that it has exceeded the capacity of 10 corpses which can be burnt at a time, but over the past three days, over 1,000 bodies have been cremated.  Now with the lack of space, bodies are being cremated on river beds and anywhere people can find a place.
The Ghat now resembles the Manikarnika Ghat in Varanasi, where bodies are burnt round the clock near the Kashi Vishwanath temple. As one passes the Bagmati bridge near the Ghat, the air is filled with the smell of burning bodies. Incidentally, there is a myth that those who die in Varanasi make their entry to heaven.
A similar myth prevails in Nepal that those who are cremated on the Pashupatinath Ghat will also enter heaven.  Both these Shiva temples are one of the 12 Jyotirlingas, considered to be pious in Hinduism.  Which is why many outside Nepal bring bodies here for cremation. The legs of the dead should be dipped in the Bagmati river so that they can reach heaven, said Poorna Mahajan, who had brought the body of a relative for cremation at the ghat.