Set up in 2014, the ‘Asthi Kalash Bank’ contains ashes of the deceased that cannot be immersed in the holy rivers due to lockdown. It has hosted thousands of ashes over the years and currently holds 60 urns of ashes.
As per Hindu tradition, a person’s ashes cannot be taken home until two weeks after the cremation. The bank provides the ability to store the ashes until they can be taken home.
“A large number of people want to immerse the ashes of their loved ones in Prayagraj, Varanasi or Haridwar but they are unable to go there due to the lockdown,” said Manoj Sengar, founder of Asthi Kalash Bank. “Since ashes cannot be kept at home, as per Hindu tradition, we are keeping them in the ‘Asthi Kalash Bank’ till the lockdown is over.”
He set up the bank when he noticed that children living abroad weren’t able to come back in time for cremations.
“The relatives who perform the last rites also cannot stay back for long. So, we started this to preserve the ashes till the children come and claim them. There are no charges and we only give a card to the family which bears the locker number,” Sengar explained.
The bank at Bhairon Ghat in Kanpur is being utilized by more people in the lockdown. Urns containing ashes have been kept safely in lockers till they can be claimed. In the event that ashes are not claimed, the bank becomes the custodian.
“In some cases, people do not return to claim the ashes. We wait for a year and then perform ‘Bhu-visarjan’ by burying them in the ground,” he said.
Sengar said that he plans to extend the services in other cities of the state too.