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One-way ticket: Gujarat crematorium offers smooth flight to heaven

To be inaugurated by the end of October, the crematorium resembling an airport terminal is aimed at lessening the pain of bereavement, powered also by belief that the passage to salvation for the departed souls will be smoother.

india Updated: Aug 18, 2017 07:07 IST
Hiral Dave
Hiral Dave
Hindustan Times, Ahmedabad
Crematorium,Airport terminal,Airport crematorium
Replica aircraft of Moksha and Swarg Airlines.(HT Photo)

One is called the Moksha (salvation) Airlines and the other Swarg (heaven) Airlines, and both are promising turbulence-free travel topped with a smooth takeoff and perfect landing on arrival.

But the offers come with riders: The supposed plane rides are meant only for departed souls and the destination is wherever afterlife takes the dead.

Modelled on an airport, complete with departure and arrival lounges with two replica aircraft in attendance, the Antim Yatra (final journey) crematorium in south Gujarat’s Bardoli, some 300 km from the state capital Ahmedabad, is like no other in the country.

To be inaugurated by the end of October, the crematorium resembling an airport terminal is aimed at lessening the pain of bereavement, powered also by belief that the passage to salvation for the departed souls will be smoother.

“People are more than happy in accompanying you to the airport than to crematoriums. I want to ease the pain of people who lose their dear ones by making them believe that the soul has just begun a new journey,” said Somabhai Patel, chairman of the Rupaben Sitaram Trust that operates the crematorium.

The crematorium has been functional for the past three decades, but it’s only some years ago that the trust behind it thought of its makeover. The trust raised donations and has so far spent some Rs 3.5 crore to give the crematorium a dash of airport ambience. Forty-foot replicas of two aircraft, bearing the names Moksha Airlines and Swarg Airlines, are parked atop the crematorium dome.

When a funeral procession arrives, the trust officials plan to direct the group to one of the five gates resembling airport terminals. And as soon as the funeral pyre is lit, audio of a jet taking off will be played on the sound system. Ditto when the cremation gets over with the noisy touchdown of a plane playing in the background.

Patel, the trust chairman, said he was inspired to remodel the crematorium by what he had learnt earlier. “As a child, I was always told by elders not to cry for departed souls as they leave for a new journey in planes,” Patel, 83, told HT.

Handling the last rites of people from 80 nearby villages, the crematorium is set to get busier after its relaunch. Cremation charges of Rs 1,000 have been waived since 2015 and last rites will continue to be performed free, making the final journey worthwhile.

First Published: Aug 18, 2017 07:07 IST