INDIA – How COVID-19 Burial Restrictions in India Are Affecting the Christian Community

International Christian Concern | May 25, 2020

An ordinance issued by the Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai had many Christians, Muslims, and Parsees concerned about how those that died of COVID-19 would be treated after death. According to that ordinance, all people who died from COVID-19 had to be cremated, regardless of their religious traditions.

Asia News reports that this ordinance failed to take into account the burial traditions of non-Hindus. Both Muslims and Christians in India prefer to bury their dead while Parsees use execration on dakhmas.

Due to fear of the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic, Christian burials were blocked in many parts of India. In March, the ordinance requiring cremation was issued likely in response to this widespread fear.

The ordinance was immediately challenged by Maharashtra’s Minority Development Minister Nawab Malik. A new ordinance was then issued allowing burials to take place if the cemeteries were large enough to avoid infecting nearby areas.

For Mumbai’s Christians, this presented a new challenge as there are few large Christian cemeteries near the city. Currently, Christians are authorized to bury those that have died of the COVID-19 pandemic in just four cemeteries.

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