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Anthyesti Funeral Services: NRIs can now book funeral services in Bengal online

A former techie, Shruti Reddy who belongs from Hyderabad and now lives in Kolkata, has started end-to-end funeral services providing agency about six months ago

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A Hindu cremation rite
A Hindu cremation rite, Image source: wikimedia Commons
  • Anthyesti Funeral Services Private Ltd, has managed 60 cases mid-March and end-June
  • Shruthi Reddy’s start-up company provides funeral assistance at four mortuaries in Kolkata – Keoratala, Nimtala, Garia Adimahasmashan, and Ramakrishna Mahasmashan
  • The Funeral service company provides assistance to Bengalis, Arya Samajis, Biharis, Marwaris, Sindhis and Punjabis among Hindus

KOLKATA: If a near one dies while you are abroad, and there is no one you know who can help, Shruthi Reddy is there for you. A young women entrepreneur has taken an initiative to organize hassle-free and trustworthy funeral rites of their near and dear ones.

A former techie, Shruti Reddy who belongs from Hyderabad and now lives in Kolkata, has started end-to-end funeral services providing agency barely six months ago. Hindustan Times reported that her start-up , Anthyesti Funeral Services Private Ltd, has managed 60 cases mid-March and end-June. They provide online booking services as well.

From organizing body preservation to getting the hearse van and certified priests for Hindus and Sikhs, providing funeral helpers and conducting ‘shradh ceremony’- different packages are available for different communities.

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“There are many people living in Kolkata, especially non-Bengalis and the Bengali families whose close ones are NRIs, who have no one to help when they need to organize a funeral. we provide the entire service, from bringing the hearse van, completion of the cremation as well as ‘shradh‘ ceremony for deportation of bodies abroad when necessary,” Reddy explained what are the services provided, to Hindustan Times.

“As families are getting smaller, more people are in need of help for organizing funeral rites of their close ones. We maintain links to the police, hospital authorities, mortuaries and foreign embassies to ensure the mourning families face no further harassment,” said Reddy.

Anthyesti Funeral Services Logo. Image source: plus.google.com
Anthyesti Funeral Services Logo. Image source: plus.google.com

Last year in 2015, Reddy organized a Funeral of a relative and encountered a lot of trouble and hassle that many people go through when they there is no one to assist. And this idea struck her to provide funeral assistance to such people. Then they have to rely upon funeral touts and dubious priests who exist in a large number.

Her start-up provides funeral assistance at four mortuaries in Kolkata – Keoratala, Nimtala, Garia Adimahasmashan, and Ramakrishna Mahasmashan. They provide assistance to Bengalis, Arya Samajis, Biharis, Marwaris, Sindhis and Punjabis among Hindus.

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The package ranges between Rs 40,000 and Rs 45,000- including the charges of hiring the hearse van and the completion of ‘shradh‘ ceremony along with vegetarian meal serving up to 60 guests. Although, the package for Biharis and Gujratis ranges from Rs 75,000 to Rs 80,000. The highest priced package is for Marwaris that is above Rs 1 lakh. And the cheapest package is for Bengalis since they have less funeral rituals to perform.

On different packages for different communities, Reddy said to theIndiandiaspora.com that “The package for communities differs because they have different rites and rituals. While the Bengalis prefer electrical crematoriums, non-Bengalis prefer the wooden pyre. Marwaris and Gujaratis have longer puja sessions as compared to those of Bengalis”.

Although, you can seek services for any particular rites also instead of the whole package. Reddy said, “Our aim is to standardize the unregulated funeral rites industry”.

–  prepared by Akanksha Sharma of NewsGram. Twitter: Akanksha4117

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Are We Hindus If We Live in India? The Answer to Contentious Question is Here

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Hinduism. Pixabay

Oct 06, 2017: Have you ever wondered what being a Hindu means? Or who is actually fit to be called a Hindu? Over centuries, Hindus and Indians alike have asked this question to themselves or their elders at least once in their lifetime.

In the 1995 ruling of the case, “Bramchari Sidheswar Shai and others Versus State of West Bengal” the court identified seven defining characteristics of Hinduism but people are still confused to what exactly defines being a Hindu in the 21st century. It’s staggering how uninformed individuals can be about their own religion; according to a speech by Sri Dharma Pravartaka Acharya there are various common notions we carry about who a Hindu is:

  • Anyone born in India is automatically a Hindu
  • If your parents are Hindu, you’re are also inevitably a Hindu
  • If you believe in reincarnation, you’re a Hindu
  • If you follow any religion practiced in India, you’re a Hindu
  • And lastly, if you are born in a certain caste, you’re a Hindu

After answering these statements some fail to remove their doubts on who a Hindu is. The question arises when someone is unsure on how to portray themselves in the society, many people follow a set of notions which might/might not be the essence of Hinduism and upon asked why they perform a particular ritual they are clueless. The problem is that the teachings are passed on for generations and the source has been long forgotten, for the source is exactly where the answer lies.

Religion corresponds to scriptural texts

The world is home to many religions and each religion has its own uniqueness portrayed out of the scriptures and teachings which are universally accepted. So to simplify the dilemma one can say that determining whether someone belongs to a particular religion is directly related to whether he/she follows the religious scriptures of the particular religion, and also whether they abide to live by the authority of the scriptural texts.

Christianity emerges from the guidance of the Gospels and Islam from the Quran where Christians believe Jesus died for their sins and Muslims believe there is no God but Allah and Mohammad is his prophet. Similarly, Hinduism emerges from a set of scriptures known as the Vedas and a Hindu is one who lives according to Dharma which is implicated in the divine laws in the Vedic scriptures.By default, the person who follows these set of religious texts is a Hindu.

Also Read: Christianity and Islam don’t have room for a discourse. Hindus must Stop Pleasing their former Christian or Muslim masters, says Maria Wirth 

Vedas distinguishes Hindu from a Non-Hindu

Keeping this definition in mind, all the Hindu thinkers of the traditional schools of Hindu philosophy accept and also insist on accepting the Vedas as a scriptural authority for distinguishing Hindus from Non-Hindus. Further implying the acceptance of the following of Bhagwat Gita, Ramayana, Puranas etc as a determining factor by extension principle as well.

Bottom Line

So, concluding the debate on who is a Hindu we can say that a person who believes in the authority of the Vedas and lives by the Dharmic principles of the Vedas is a Hindu. Also implying that anyone regardless of their nationality i.e. American, French or even Indian can be called a Hindu if they accept the Vedas.

– Prepared by Tanya Kathuria of Newsgram                                                                

(the article was originally written by Shubhamoy Das and published by thoughtco)

One response to “Are We Hindus If We Live in India? The Answer to Contentious Question is Here”

  1. Hindu is a historical name for people living “behind the river Indus”. So, everyone living in India is a Hindu, eventhough he might have a different faith.

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Kolkata Showcases in Top 100 Global Travel Destinations

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Whiteways and Laidlaw Building in Kolkata. Wikimedia

Oct 2, 2017: Kolkata is featured in the top 100 travel destinations globally alongside other Indian cities namely, Chennai, Mumbai, Delhi, Pune, and Bengaluru, as indicated by Mastercard Global Destination Cities Index 2017.

Chennai stands out in India, other than emerging among the top 10 destinations in Asia Pacific when it comes to overnight visitor arrivals.

Travel and tourism in India is on the rise, an authority of a main travel house in the city told PTI.

Durga Puja festival in Kolkata is a major attraction for foreigners with at least two- to three-day stay, he said.

Also Read:  Durga Puja Pandal Decoration Catches Cinema Style, Baahubali Palace Will Be In Cruise This Year In Kolkata 

According to the Mastercard Global Destinations Cities Index 2017, there are no indications of the slowdown in travel and tourism in Asia Pacific with the region dominating visitor arrivals.

This is additionally affirmed with the main 10 cities in Asia Pacific destinations tracking the most noteworthy amount of global overnight visitor spending. Bringing USD 91.16 billion in travel use in 2016, Asia Pacific outpaced Europe (USD74.74 billion USD) and North America (USD55.02 billion), MasterCard said in an announcement.

Prepared by Naina Mishra of Newsgram. Twitter @Nainamishr94

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Kashmere Gate Durga Puja is the 108 Years Old Annual Ritual in Delhi

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Kashmere Gate Durga Puja
Durga Puja. IANS

New Delhi, Sep 24, 2017: Kolkata might be the cynosure of Durga Puja celebrations, but not far behind is the national capital, which plays host to more than 350 pandals (marquees). And the Kashmere Gate Durga Puja has been continuing this yearly ritual for the past 108 years, making it Delhi’s oldest Puja.

Its theme has always been traditional. From maintaining the quintessential “sabeki ek-chala-thakur” (traditional one platform) goddess Durga to carrying the idol in a bullock cart for the “visarjan” (immersion), this Puja stands out against the rest.

“The bullock cart visarjan is organised only by us. No other pandals organise such a procession in the national capital,” Samarendra Bose, a committee member of the Delhi Durga Puja Samiti, told IANS.

“And the Bhog! It is also a highlight of our celebration. Every year we feed the afternoon meal to around five to six thousand people. And on Ashtami (the eighth day), the turnout crosses more than 10,000. It’s a big responsibility on our shoulders and we make sure that everything goes smoothly during the Puja,” he said.

Also Read: Devotees Offer Prayers to Goddess Durga and Observe Fast for Nine Divine Nights, Starting Today

There’s quite a history attached to this Puja. Due to the efforts of an unnamed railway employee, the first Puja was organised in 1909 at the Roshanpura Kali Mandir near Nai Sarak. From 1913 to 1946, the Puja used to be organised in a dharamshala (community hall) near Fatehpuri Mosque. Later it was shifted to the Bengali Senior Secondary School at Alipur Road near Civil Lines but the nomenclature continued unchanged.

“In the initial years, the idol used to be brought from Benaras, but from 1926, the idol began to be made in the city itself. And now it’s made within the school premises,” Bose stated.

What hasn’t changed are the customs associated with the Puja. No matter how popular theme pujas are becoming, the Kashmere Gate Durga Puja continues to be a traditional one.

“Theme idols can never reflect the charm or the beauty of a traditional one. We don’t bring the idol from CR Park or Kolkata; rather it is made inside the school premises, like the way it happens in home Pujas,” Bose pointed out.

For the five days the Puja lasts, the atmoshphere within the pandal turns into a mini Bengal. From people clad in their traditional attire to cultural programmes and, of course, Bengali’s favourite cuisine — biryani — turns it into a major draw.

“We organise cultural programmes but only the local residents participate. We don’t invite artists (like most pandals do). Also, we make sure that at least during the five days, all the functions are conducted in Bengali,” Bose said.

The charm of this Durga Puja couldn’t even be ignored by then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, who visited the pandal in 1969. Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose is also believed to have attended the celebrations in 1935.

“The priest and the dhakis (drummers) have been brought from Kolkata. We make sure that there is no dearth of bhog. After all it’s a major attraction of Kashmere Gate Durga Puja,” Bose said.

So, make sure that Kashmere Gate Puja is on the must-visit pandals list this year! (IANS)