TIRUCHY: When Rahman* (name changed) tested positive for coronavirus, it was a huge shock for his family. The reason for alarm was the fact that the senior citizen was a diabetic, and had heart problems.
Ten days later, he passed away. His family was unable to see him one last time, as that's what the rules state.
Burial/cremation of COVID patients is a very different affair. For a nation that believes deeply in the grieving process and sending the dead with a proper send off, the rules of coronavirus deaths are indeed difficult.
More than the family, the people performing the cremation/burial are facing a challenge. They have to wear PPE kits, and be extremely careful.
Since many family members are apprehensive about performing the last rites, individuals and groups have come forward to give the dead a dignified send off. The members of TMMK (Tamil Nadu Muslim Munnetra Kazagham) in Tiruchy are doing the service in a dedicated manner.
Their members have been volunteering to perform the last rites of the dead COVID patients in Tiruchy.
"Around 5-10 volunteers come forward for each burial. We have helped bury three patients in Tiruchy so far. Our volunteers wear PPEs and follow all the protocol. After they are done with the burial, they remain in isolation and get a COVID test done," said Abdul Rahim, deputy secretary of the TMMK.
A 15 x 4 feet hole is dug where the dead are laid to rest. Two or three family members can also be present at the burial.
The family members of the deceased heave praises on these volunteers.
"We are very happy with the way our father was laid to rest. It's very important to give a noble send off to the dead. While there is so much stigma surrounding even a COVID positive patient, it is such a great deed that these volunteers are doing," said Kamaludeen, family member of the deceased.
Not just COVID deaths, the TMMK in Tiruchy has been performing the last rites of abandoned bodies, people with no family for a very long time. They have not stopped this service even during Corona times.
"There are many bodies that lie unclaimed. The hospital calls us if no one claims a body for a particular amount of time. We give them a dignified send off," added Rahim. TMMK has performed the last rites of more than 50 such people.