Hindus Are Buried…?!

I didn’t know Hindus were buried. Like, they’re always cremated, right?

And then we stumbled on our local Hindu graveyard. And realized how wrong we were.

graveyard1_zps09ce07ef

The Bangalore architect laughed at me when I asked him about it later.

“That’s the great white myth,” he said. “You Westerners still like to romanticize us Indians like the colonialists. But it’s not true. These days, most of us Hindus prefer to be buried.”

Most Hindus are buried??? That can’t be right. Maybe most of Bangalore Hindus? Or most of his Brahmin community? Or most high-tech Indians? But what about Varanasi? The shamshan burning ghats? The history, the rituals?

But the evidence was here… at least some Hindus are buried. My coworkers agreed: it’s more popular nowadays.

So is it Western romanticization if I post a bunch of pix from the graveyard? I mean, compared to the fairly boring Christian and Muslim burial grounds that flanked it, it was so much more awesome!

Shiva Lingams and Nandi bulls topped the gravestones…

They were hand-painted in gorgeous colors…

And some even had miniature sculptures of the deceased!

Many were swathed in colored paste, as if celebrating Holi…

And the professionals listed their careers, like Kudari the Bank Officer or Ramamurthy the ITI manager…

And then in the very middle of the Hindu burial ground, in a small gated area, I came across the Chinese section — Chinatown of the aferlife, perhaps? — filled with a dozen graves for old Bangalore immigrants.

I tried to find out more about the Chinese dead, but Google was little help. Of course, because it was India, the whole graveyard was covered in trash.

Two young boys offered to clean some graves for a few rupees, but I said no. So many cows, goats, and packs of wild dogs were loving the garbage, I thought it would be silly.

But even though the cemetery was dirty, and overgrown, and crawling with animals, locals still chose to hang out there. Four men sat gambling on a wide stretch-gravestone. They waved me over as I passed by, and pointed out a photo nailed to a tree. “This is MG Ramachandran,” one said. “MGR. Tamil film star. Photo?”

Yes. Photo. Always.

See more Holy Curiosities or more stories from ,

8 Responses to Hindus Are Buried…?!

  1. Samir Dutt says:

    Great site!

    Hindu children under a year are buried, as are very holy men, because they are considered to be without sin. All other Hindus, at least in the north of India, are cremated.

    I have read centuries-old travel accounts (Portuguese, English, Italian) where Hindu burial is mentioned, but always in the south of India. Never in the north.

    • Andy Deemer says:

      Thanks for the comment! On Facebook, Rajiv posted something similar this morning:

      ah … well, Hindus do bury and no, its not a new age thing :o) Shaivaites ( shiva followers) usually bury whereas vaishnavaites ( vishnu) cremate. So sects of hinduism like lingayats, veerashaivas, etc bury the dead. Tribes like bishnois of Rajasthan also bury the dead for a different reason.I like the Zoarastrian ( Parsi) way the best though with least damage to the environment and actually helping another creature live.

      I’d also heard about the children and unwed mothers (??) being buried — but what fascinated me was that these were company managers and business owners… not at all what I’d grown up believing. Love being so completely wrong about something I’d assumed to be entirely true. :) Thanks, Samir!

  2. saurabh says:

    Only in South India, some of the upper caste Hindu who has land primarily bury the dead. Earlier it was done on the land they own to protect it, but now a days since getting a piece of land is in scarcity.
    It is still a surprise for many North Indians who never have done this. Only in case of children below 2 months or so are buried because of rituals that they cannot be cremated . There are also cases of burial due to pre mature deaths.
    But the Hindu burials are still like 1% of the total cremation.

  3. Bapuji M Dr says:

    Yes for very long as rajiv said certain communities bury and bury without embalming, without any casket – Natural / Green burial. Across the world we must turn to this to save the earth. It is beautiful to know how we go back to nature – dust unto dust. But we must ensure the soil enriched must come up for agricultural purposes. We do not dig or till beyond a foot or two to plant even tree species. The body buried 4-6 feet deep is not available as manure. There is no clear information on how long it takes for total decomposition, how harmless is the soil after total decomposition etc must be scientifically explored and standards must be set. I have decided to be buried- not burnt!

    • Durdana Jamali says:

      Bapuji M Dr, I am not a Hindu but a Muslim. Our religion has taught us to bury the dead but not to cover the grave with concrete. It is suppose to remain in soil or earth so that one can bring the same land under agricultural use after 25 years if i am not mistaken. This custom is followed in Arab countries like UAE,etc but there are muslims from Pakistan,India who don’t follow this rule. This was just to add to your idea that the land should be used for trees or agriculture. In Iran you would see many trees and flowers grown in the flat graveyards to give shade and make it serene for those who are gone.
      Take Care

      • Bapuji M Dr says:

        But, we must base our decisions, desires on our education, knowledge not on religion, caste, region etc.

        Yes it is good to go green in death and after death. I do not like to link it with all other things

  4. veer nath says:

    Ya its true shaivism( follower of shiva) bury their dead ones , this is because it is believed that they are sinless, their soul n their body is pure…
    dasnam goswami samaj always bury

  5. vs says:

    from what i know, south indian brahmins do not bury the dead. my neighbours who belong to other castes bury their dead. it is, as is with many things, a caste thing.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Req

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>