In parched Beed, relatives of dead forced to buy water for last rites | mumbai | Hindustan Times
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In parched Beed, relatives of dead forced to buy water for last rites

The bills for performing the last rites of the deceased have increased substantially as the Godavai river has dried up

mumbai Updated: May 12, 2016 08:56 IST
Surendra P Gangan
An advertisement of a water tanker supplier hangs on a tree at the banks of Godavari in Beed district.
An advertisement of a water tanker supplier hangs on a tree at the banks of Godavari in Beed district. (Satish Bate/HT)

In death, as in life, the drought and water scarcity in central Maharashtra have been unsparing in their harshness on the people of Marathwada region. With the Godavari river drying up, grieving Hindu families have been forced to buy a water tanker for the rituals, adding at least 30% to their expenses.

Families have to buy water — costing Rs 1,600-Rs 2,000 — to perform last rites on the 10th day after the death, along the banks of the Godavari at the Shani Temple in Gevrai, Beed district.

The banks of Godavari here are considered holy. The 10th day rituals, in parts of Marathwada, need the entire family to bathe to mark the end of abstinence after the death of a family member. Priests believe that people accompanying the family on the day of rituals also need to bathe. The family thus needs to buy an entire tanker of water to meet its needs.

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The banks of Godavari here are considered holy. The 10th day rituals, in parts of Marathwada, need the entire family to bathe to mark the end of abstinence after the death of a family member. Priests believe that people accompanying the family on the day of rituals also need to bathe. The family thus needs to buy an entire tanker of water to meet its needs.

Each tanker costs at least Rs 1,600. Such is the demand that suppliers have put up boards advertising their numbers on trees around the temple. “Hindu religion requires the family and people accompanying them to bathe on the banks of Godavari. Truckloads of people come with the family as part of tradition. This needs a lot of water,” said Dheeraj Annadate, manager of Shani Maharaj temple.

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The sudden and sharp increase in expenditure, however, has led to a decline in the number of people turning up here. “Not a single ritual was performed today at this holy place; this is a first. People now prefer to visit the banks of Shahagad, the adjacent village,” said Vithal Kalekar, a puja-material shop owner.

Senior priest Popat Shastri Chawthaiwale, however, said the temple trust has made sufficient arrangement for water through a borewell. “It is true that the Godavari has dried up for the first time. But we have made sufficient arrangements,” he said.

The trust also blames the devastation on the illegal dredging of sand from the riverbed. An office bearer said sand mining by contractors has worsened the situation.

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