Thiruvananthapuram: In Kerala, a tourist destination marketed as `God`s own country`, soon one`s journey to the hereafter could begin much before one passes away. People in Palakkad, concerned about whether or not their last rites would be carried out in proper religious fashion, now have the option of making an advance booking of their cremation rituals with the `Aivar Madham Trust` and "die in peace".
All it costs is Rs 4,000 for registration. Those who wish to make a booking for their last rites must appear in person at the trust`s office with their photographs, as also documents like the final will and testament to avoid any confusion among the survivors. The package includes an ambulance service, a mobile mortuary if needed, the service of a priest versed in rituals, and, the chief attraction, a holy and traditional cremation on the banks of the Bharathappuzha river in Palakkad district. The applicant is then given a registration card that ensures he gets the desired cremation.
The history of `Madham` is said to date back to the Mahabharata. According to a legend, it was here that the Pandavas, on the advice of Lord Krishna, performed the last rites for relatives killed in Kurukshetra.
Ramesh Korappath, who heads the `Aivar Madham Development Trust`, says the idea resulted from a large number of inquiries he`d been receiving over the years. "Whenever the query came, we would discourage them. But then we decided to give it a try and formed a trust. The panchayat president is also part of the trust. A share of the fee goes to the panchayat."
In his late 30s, Ramesh admits there was one more reason to start the project. "Thousands of dead people are cremated here — about 50 every day. But the facilities are totally inadequate. We also hope to improve the amenities with the income."