Aryaghat sees less number of bodies after lockdown imposed

Kathmandu, April 8

Laxman KC, 52, has been working at the funeral site at Pashupati-based Aryaghat for nearly three decades. He has never seen so less funerals at the holy site of Hindus before the nationwide lockdown imposed by the government in a bid to control the outbreak of novel coronavirus.

KC says the ghat on the banks of the Bagmati River at Pashupati are unusually silent these days. Earlier, the ghats often used to resonate with the wailing of grieving families of the deceased. These days, only two to three bodies are cremated at the ghat. Before the lockdown, on an average 20 to 25 bodies used to be cremated at Pashupati Aryaghat.

The number of bodies brought for electric cremation has also decreased significantly after the lockdown. The electronic crematorium that used to see 15 to 20 bodies on an average before the lockdown, now sees around nine bodies.

Gokarna Poudel, head of the Ghat Management Committee under Pashupati Area Development Trust, said less number of bodies were brought to the ghat as the number of unnatural deaths, such as deaths in accidents and suicides had decreased after the lockdown. The traffic police record, however, shows that only one person on an average dies in road accident in a day. Similarly, only one person commits suicide in a day on an average inside Kathmandu valley.

Kumar Thapa Magar, head of electric crematorium under PADT expressed a similar opinion saying a few bodies had been coming from hospitals.

He said, “Since almost all hospitals are closed these days, people might have stopped taking their ailing family members to hospitals for various operations, which might have reduced the number of bodies brought to the ghat at Pashupati.”

Dr Dharma Kanta Baskota, vice-chancellor of Tribhuvan University and also a former chair of Nepal Medical Council, however, said that there was a valid reason behind such decline. “Hospitals outside the valley have stopped referring seriously ill or critical patients to the hospitals in Kathmandu valley due to the lockdown. This has eventually reduced the number of deaths recorded in the hospitals of Kathmandu valley.”

A version of this article appears in e-paper on April 09, 2020 of The Himalayan Times.