Kerala parish does away with wooden coffins, starts using cotton shroud for burial
A church in Kerala has stopped the time-honoured practice of using wooden coffins for burial in favour of eco-friendly cotton cloth.
St George Church in Arthunkal near here under the Latin Archdiocese of Kochi, has switched to using cotton cloth to wrap the bodies instead of wooden coffins from September 1.
The church decided to end the use of wooden coffins as it was found that the bodies were taking a longer time than the normal to decompose and the coffins taking longer time to disintegrate.
The church authorities and the local self-government body held numerous discussions with the 949 families in the parish since last year and came to a consensus to change the burial practice.
The church authorities said they were finding it difficult to bury bodies as the older ones were not decomposing due to high salinity of the soil due to the proximity to the sea.
“We recently found that there is a delay in decomposition of the bodies in wooden coffins. To bury bodies now, we are unable to find a grave as the bodies have not decomposed. Some families even make the bodies wear polythene clothing. These all take years to decompose,” a senior member of the parish told PTI.
Tomy Alasheril, the panchayat member of the Chambakkad Ward of the Cherthala South grama Panchayat told PTI that after the decision was taken, the church authorities buried two bodies on September 2 and a third body on September 5.
“While digging a grave to bury the body, we find that the old bodies have not decomposed. It creates a lot of environmental issues. There is a lot of waste from dress, decorations after the funeral services. It took a lot of discussions with the parishioners to convince them to let go of the traditional burial practice,” Alasheril said.
Now, after a death, the church will dispatch a steel coffin and cotton shroud to the house of the deceased person. The body will be wrapped in cotton cloth and will be kept in the steel coffin. After the funeral service, the body will be removed from the steel coffin and buried.