The poor flock to funeral pyres for warmth


  • AseanPlus News
  • Saturday, 25 Jan 2003

LUCKNOW: As a bitter cold snap kills hundreds in northern India, homeless people are seeking relief from the deadly weather by warming themselves at funeral pyres. 

Cremation grounds in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh’s capital Lucknow have become the favourite hangouts of the poor and homeless, who take cold comfort from each funeral. 

“A dead body seems the only source of joy for us,” 72-year-old Lakhan said cynically. 

The pyres provide the only warmth for these people, who have no money for wood or charcoal. 

“We dread the days when there are no bodies for cremation,” said eight-year-old Munna. 

The weather, said to be the worst in decades, has claimed 550 lives in the state and more than 2,250 across South Asia since mid-December. 

In the neighbouring state of Bihar, where the worst winter this century has claimed more than 780 lives, some poor have been left with no wood to cremate relatives. 

The price of wood has shot up because of the cold and those who cannot afford it have had to wait up to 20 hours for the only electric crematorium in the state capital. – AFP  

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