In a first, Arthunkal St George Church opts for funeral without coffins

Vicar Fr Johnson Thaundayil said the new system – a first for a Catholic church – was adopted after getting the consent of the parishioners and the church’s pastoral council. 

Published: 06th September 2022 06:07 AM  |   Last Updated: 06th September 2022 06:07 AM   |  A+A-

The coffins that are used to carry bodies from the home of the deceased to the cemetery | Express

Express News Service

ALAPPUZHA: St George Church in Arthunkal, Alappuzha, under the Latin Archdiocese has set a new convention for funerals, specifically burials, by doing away with all types of wooden coffins and burying the deceased after wrapping the bodies in cotton clothes. 

Vicar Fr Johnson Thaundayil said the new system – a first for a Catholic church – was adopted after getting the consent of the parishioners and the church’s pastoral council. “Delay in decomposing of the bodies and disintegration of coffins and decorations in the grave was hampering later funerals, prompting us to consider the system used by Muslims and Jews.

Almost all Christian sects use wooden coffins – made of teak, rosewood and other hardwood – while some families dress up the deceased in polyester clothes, all of which take years to decompose and disintegrate,” he said. He said with the government allotting just 20 to 30 cents of land for cemeteries a large parishes like theirs, having nearly 1,000 families, face difficulty in finding a suitable grave. 

“The church’s close proximity to the sea is also a hindrance,” said Johnson, adding that they took the decision to not use coffins after nearly a year of talks and parleys with parishioners. Several churches in the state are facing the same problem. Also, the affluent use expensive coffins made of hardwood to bury their dear departed. However, the coffins take a long time to disintegrate.

Meanwhile, the Arthunkal church buried two bodies without coffins on September 2, while another will be buried similarly on Sunday, said Tomy Elassery, the central committee member of the church and chairman of the standing committee on health of Cherthala South grama panchayat. He said the salinity of the soil in the area was delaying the decay of the bodies and coffins.

“While digging a grave, we would often find that the old coffins buried earlier had not decomposed. Moreover, waste from old coffins, dresses and decorations started piling up on the cemetery premises, and the local body found it tough to manage the waste generated in the thickly-populated area. So, the parish decided to adopt the new method,” he said, adding that Bishop Joseph Kariyil had okayed it. 
To transport the parishioners’ bodies from their homes to the cemeteries, the church has kept a few coffins at the ready.


Disclaimer : We respect your thoughts and views! But we need to be judicious while moderating your comments. All the comments will be moderated by the editorial. Abstain from posting comments that are obscene, defamatory or inflammatory, and do not indulge in personal attacks. Try to avoid outside hyperlinks inside the comment. Help us delete comments that do not follow these guidelines.

The views expressed in comments published on are those of the comment writers alone. They do not represent the views or opinions of or its staff, nor do they represent the views or opinions of The New Indian Express Group, or any entity of, or affiliated with, The New Indian Express Group. reserves the right to take any or all comments down at any time.

flipboard facebook twitter whatsapp