BENGALURU: For 20 years, Shanthi has stood by grieving families as their loved one’s pyre was set on fire. The 40-year-old works at BBMP’s electric crematorium.
In fact, she did not choose this line of work by accident. Her grandmother and mother too did the same. “When we were young, we used to live at the graveyard. This work is an art — from choosing the firewood to arranging it, adding fuel, camphor and oil. The body should be burnt completely. The next day when family members come back, ashes would be given in a pot,” she said. Shanthi lives near the crematorium with her four children. Her husband died four years back.
Shanthi’s day begins early. She makes breakfast and packs lunches for her children and is at the crematorium by 9am. She starts by cleaning the pyre of previous day’s residue.
Shanthi is paid `50 to `100 by families and every day she burns five to seven bodies. “I usually don’t get disturbed seeing bodies. But when I see children, I think of my children. I can feel the mother’s pain,” she said.
Shanthi does not want her children to pursue the profession. “I followed my mother’s and grandmother’s footsteps, but I don’t want my children to take this up. The salary is poor and no medical facilities. Our payment depends on the generosity of families. When they are mourning, I can’t demand money from them,” she said.