Monday August 20, 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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The Other Side of “Hindu Pakistan”

Although, the mainstream parties stay away from nominating Hindus, this time there are many independent Hindu candidates contesting from general seats — mostly from the Sindh province

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The-Other-Side-of-“Hindu-Pakistan”
The Hindu population in Pakistan is about 1.8% according to the 2018 census, 0.2% more than that of the 1998 and the 1951 figures.

Sagarneel Sinha

Congress MP Shashi Tharoor’s remark that India would become a “Hindu Pakistan” if the BJP is elected again in 2019, sparked off a major debate among the political circles of the country. BJP didn’t let the opportunity go by launching a scathing attack on Tharoor and his party for insulting Hindus and Indian democracy, forcing the Congress party to distance itself from its own MP’s comment. Only one year is left for the next general elections and in a politically polarised environment such comments serve as masala for political battles where perception is an important factor among the electorates.

Actually, Tharoor, through his statement, is trying to convey that “India may become a
fundamentalist state just like its neighbour — Pakistan”. Tharoor is a shrewd politician and his remarks are mainly for political gains. The comments refer to our neighbour going to polls on 25 th of this month which has a long history of ignoring minorities where the state institutions serve as a tool for glorifying the religious majority bloc and ridiculing the minorities. This compelled me to ponder about the participation of the Hindus — the largest minority bloc of the country, in the upcoming polls.

There are total 37 reserved seats for minorities in Pakistan — 10 in the National Assembly
(Lower House), 4 in the Senate (Upper House) and 23 in various state legislatures — 9 in the Sindh assembly, 8 in Punjab and 3 each in Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. Pakistani Hindus, like other minorities have the dual voting rights in principle. But the reality is they have no rights to vote for their own representatives as the seats are reserved — means the distribution of these seats are at the discretion of parties’ leadership. Practically speaking, these reserved seats are meant for political parties not for minorities. In case of general seats, it is almost impossible for a Hindu candidate to win until and unless supported by the mainstream parties of the country. The bitter truth is — the mainstream parties have always ignored the Hindus by hesitating to field them from general seats. In 2013, only one Hindu candidate — Mahesh Kumar from the Tharparkar district won from a general seat, also became the only minority candidate to make it to the National Assembly from a general seat. This time too, he is nominated by the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) — a major centre-left party of Pakistan. However, there are no other Hindu candidates for a general seat from the two other significant centre-right parties — former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and cricketer turned politician Imran Khan’s Tehreek-E-Insaf (PTI). Although, there is a Hindu candidate named Sanjay Berwani from Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) — a Karachi (capital of Sindh province) based secular centrist party of Pakistan.

Shashi_tharoor
Congress MP Shashi Tharoor’s remark that India would become a “Hindu Pakistan” if the BJP is
elected again in 2019, sparked off a major debate among the political circles of the country.

The Hindu population in Pakistan is about 1.8% according to the 2018 census, 0.2% more than that of the 1998 and the 1951 figures. It means that despite the state’s hostile policies, Hindus have been able to remain stable in a highly Islamist polarised society. 90% of the Hindu population of the country lives in the Sindh province. Hindu population in Umerkot,Tharparkar and Mirpur Khas districts of the Sindh province stands at 49%, 46% and 33% respectively — making them the only three substantial Hindu districts of the country. The three districts have 5 National Assembly and 13 Provincial seats. However, Hindus have never well represented from these seats.

Although, the mainstream parties stay away from nominating Hindus, this time there are many independent Hindu candidates contesting from general seats — mostly from the Sindh province. Many of them belong to the Schedule caste — the Dalit community. A recent report based on Pakistan Election Commission’s data says that out of 2.5 lakh women of Tharparkar district, around 2 lakh of them are not included in the electoral list — means that they are not entitled to vote for the upcoming general elections. All over the country, there are about 1.21 crore women voters who will not be able to vote in the elections. The reason is the lack of an identity card. Most of them are poor who are unable to pay the expenses required for an identity card. This has made difficult for independent Hindu Dalit candidates like Sunita Parmar and Tulsi Balani as most of their supporters will not be voting in the upcoming polls. In Tharparkar district, around 33% percent are the Hindu Dalits — brushed aside by the mainstream parties. The reserved seat candidates are based on party nominations, where mainly the upper caste Hindus are preferred. Radha Bheel, a first time contestant and the chairperson of Dalit Suhaag Tehreek (DST), a Dalit organisation, says that the fight is for the rights of the lower socio-economic class and scheduled castes. Sunita, Tulsi, Radha and the other independent Hindu candidates know
that the possibility of winning from the general seats is bleak but for them the contest is for their own identity — an identity never recognised by the political parties and the establishment of Pakistan.