Tuesday January 16, 2018
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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
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  • 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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Triple Talaq: Are the concerns and efforts real?

It cannot be deied that BJP is outlawing triple talaq to gain political mileage both from sections of Muslim women and from those Hindus who will see it as Modi's distress over the sufferings of Muslim women and as a message to Muslims that the days when they were given excessive leeway by less assertive governments are now gone.

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Triple Talaq continues to plague lives of Muslim women, VOA News
Triple Talaq continues to plague lives of Muslim women, VOA News
  • Triple Talaq has been seen as way of BJP gaining popularity among Muslims, and not as a real concern for the distressed women of the community.
  • BJP leaders are often accused of Anti-Muslim statements, which further proves the point.
  • However, if the law is passed, it will be a step towards empowerment of the Muslim women.

Only the naive will believe that deep concern for the welfare of Muslim “sisters” and for the maintenance of the “dignity of women” and “gender equality” persuaded the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to introduce the bill in parliament to ban the practice of triple talaq.

For a party whose founder in its previous incarnation, Syama Prasad Mookerjee, thought that only a civil war can solve the Hindu-Muslim problem, as Tripura’s Governor, Tathagata Roy of the BJP, reminded us recently, and a BJP candidate in the Gujarat elections sought a reduction in the numbers of “topi and dadhiwalas” (sartorial allusion to Muslims), it strains credulity to believe that it has been guided solely by laudable motives to put an end to an admittedly reprehensible custom.

The belief will persist, therefore, that it is a desire to “garner votes” which is behind the decision, notwithstanding Law Minister, Ravi Shankar Prasad’s disavowal of such an intention.

Few will deny, of course, that the practice itself is highly condemnable, not least because it is illegal even in Islamic countries. For a secular country, therefore, to allow it to prevail will point to a flawed outlook whose roots lie deep in the political calculations.

It cannot be gainsaid that the BJP is outlawing triple talaq to gain political mileage both from sections of Muslim women and from those Hindus who will see the proposed law, first, as an example of “brother” Modi’s distress over the sufferings of Muslim women and, secondly, as a message to Muslims in general that the days are gone when they were given excessive leeway by less assertive governments.

The “secular” rulers of the past, on the other hand, also thought that they will gain votes by pandering to the predilections of the obscurantists among the minorities.

The worst example of this regressive attitude was the Shah Bano episode, when the Rajiv Gandhi government negated a Supreme Court verdict in favour of alimony for a divorced Muslim woman on the advice of Muslim fundamentalists.

Shayara Bano case was one of the biggest milestone cases in history of India which intensified the previously buried matter. Wikipedia Common
Shayara Bano case was one of the biggest milestone cases in history of India which intensified the previously buried matter. Wikipedia Common

The BJP’s rise from the sidelines of politics to the mainstream, can be traced through that event in the mid-1980s. The Congress will have to tread carefully in deciding on its stance on the bill which has followed the Supreme Court’s recent declaration of triple talaq as unconstitutional in a case involving the litigant, Shayara Bano.

The difficulty for the Congress is that it has given secularism a bad name by making the concept virtually synonymous with minority appeasement. While the BJP will not mind being closely associated with Hinduism, the Congress has been trying to shed the impression that it has become “mussalmanon ki party” or a party of Muslims, as the Congress leader, Ashok Gehlot, has said, ever since the 2014 defeat made him aware of this unwelcome image, as the A.K. Antony report pointed out.

The triple talaq bill gives it an opportunity to refurbish its reputation by articulating a rational position on drafting the law, aiming at protecting Muslim women from cruel and whimsical divorces and at the same time ensuring that the legislation does not lead to a police witch-hunt targeting men. Since the bill has to still pass through the Rajya Sabha, Parliament’s upper house, there is ample scope for fine-tuning it for smoothing out the rough edges, the most egregious of which is to introduce an element of criminality in a civil legal procedure.

If the Congress and other “secular” parties play a leading role in ensuring that the new law will unequivocally serve the ends of justice where no one — neither the women, nor the men, nor the children of divorced parents — will suffer, then these parties will be able to retrieve much of their lost reputation about cynical kowtowing to bigots in the Muslim community and reassure the country in general that politics can rise above partisan and opportunistic considerations.

From this standpoint, the bill provides a golden opportunity to the secular outfits even if the BJP runs away with much of the credit for introducing it.

Outside of politics, what is noteworthy is the failure of the Muslims to deal with the problem on their own. But ever since partition robbed the community of bold, educated leaders and self-confidence by inducing the minority complex of being forever under siege under the numerically superior Hindus — unlike other minorities like Sikhs and Parsis who have retained their poise and self-belief — the Muslims have come under the retrogressive influence of the mullahs with the result that they have remained stuck in the past.

Not all Muslim have the freedom to do whatever they want. They are still in the clutches of Triple Talaq.
Not all Muslim have the freedom to do whatever they want. They are still in the clutches of Triple Talaq.

Triple talaq is one manifestation of such backwardness along with polygamy and the veiling of women as they reinforce the age-old patriarchal norms. Only a small section of upper middle class women — film stars and sports personnel being prominent among them — has been able to extricate themselves from the grasp of medievalism and enter the modern world. But the majority of the poor and lower middle class women have been denied the opportunity of advancement by orthodox Muslim society. The new law offers them a ray of hope. IANS Live