Kerala Church turns eco friendly, does away with coffins

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Kerala Church turns eco friendly, does away with coffins

Thiruvananthapuram: To make funerals more environment friendly, St George Church Arthunkal at Cherthala in Alappuzha district has decided to do away with coffins.

The decision follows year-long parleys, talks and discussions.

Located near the coastal area, the Latin Church was finding handling of plastics material, found while opening a tomb, challenging.

The Church authorities took up the issue with the parishioners and also consulted around 950 families who are members of this famed Church.

One year after it was taken up at the Pastoral council, the matter was cleared with the first funeral without the coffin taking place last week.

Now, a steel box in the shape of a coffin from the Church will be sent to the home of the dead and the body placed in it.

After the funeral service, the body will be wrapped in a cloth and placed at the bottom of the cemetery which will be decorated with flowers.

St George Church’s decision of altering the long standing rituals of discarding the wooden coffins, though environmentally a boon, can spell doom for the coffin makers who make a killing based on the economic status of the deceased.

The local village council standing committee member (Health) Tomy Ellassery told IANS that there was early resistance to the change.

“The Church authorities face problems as some bodies that come wrapped in plastic sheets fail to disintegrate into the soil. Same is the case with some varieties of wood that is used in the making of the coffins. Since the sea is just 400 metres away from the Church cemetery, due to the particular soil conditions in the area, the decaying process is delayed and even after five years, there have been instances of bodies wrapped in plastic sheets failing to disintegrate. Now with the new system, we are hopeful of not facing this issue again,” said Tomy and added that last week itself there were three funerals and all were done in the new manner.

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