Saturday, July 24, 2010
Today, there are eight women, some of them unmarried girls, performing this hereditary profession in Karchana tehsil, about 22 miles from Allahabad. While some of the women try to supplement the family income this way, others have taken it up to continue their ancestral profession in absence of male members in the family.
Bodies from about 150 villages are brought to the cremation ghat on the bank of the Ganga in Maniaya daily and the 10-odd families of Mahapatra brahmins have a hereditary right to perform their last rites.
“There is nothing wrong in taking up this work, but one should be well-versed in the rituals,” said 18-year-old Kaushalya, daughter of Badami Devi. “In Hindu religious texts, special importance is given to the person who performs the last rites. We attained the knowledge and then got into this profession. Now, our men take up other jobs and this helps supplement the family income. We do not object if people come with their own priest, but we are ready when anyone needs out services.