Mangaluru, Nov 02, 2017 : City Catholics can be seen sprucing up graves and decorating them with flowers at all cemeteries in Mangaluru as part of the traditional observances for the All Souls Day, today November 2, Thursday.
November 2 of every year, more than say 5 lakh Catholics in undivided Dakshina Kannada (Udupi) dedicate the day in prayer and remember their departed family members particularly. The Day commences with all Churches holding a solemn masses. After Mass, the faithful participate in special blessings of graves, standing by the graves, to honour the dead. This day is considered an expression of a lifelong bond and also as a mark of gratitude to the near and dear ones for giving their progeny the gift of life and a good future.
What makes the Day of the Dead unique in coastal belt is some of the traditions followed from age old hertege practices from generation to generation. Till date in some of the ancient houses, a day before the All Souls Day, the cauldron (Bann in Konkani) which is used to heat water for a bath is cleaned and it is filled and heated in the early morning, next day. It is believed that ancestors who are no more, would visit family members, have a bath and spend the day with them.
A special breakfast, lunch and dinner is prepared on that day. For breakfast, a type of dosa with sweet liquid made of coconut milk and jaggery is served to all family members and the lunch menu includes boiled rice, special fish/meat curry, staple food of the coastal Konkani Christian community.
More Catholics consider cremation due burial space shortage :
The non-availability of burial space in cemeteries in churches under the Mangaluru Diocese is making people opt for cremation instead of burial. Cremation has been allowed by the Holy See (Vatican City) since 1963 and Pope Francis has stressed this in the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith issued last year.
According to the new guidelines, burial is still preferred, but cremation is an option. However, cremation comes with some riders which mandate that the ashes must be kept intact, just like one would treat a body. The ashes may not be separated, scattered or thrown into rivers. Instead, they should remain in a proper vessel in a proper place, such as a cemetery or a church.
As many as five people have opted for cremation instead of burial under the Mangaluru Diocese so far and the number is increasing. However, the majority still opts for burial. Death is considered one of the most important of the three rituals that dominate a Christian’s life, along with christening and marriage/ordination ceremonies.
Cremation is chosen due to lack of space in cemeteries and one needs approval from the parish priest. Sources said that in Mangaluru, many Catholics opt for permanent tombs and this can be seen in most churches. "One reserves space in a cemetery by paying amounts ranging from Rs 50,000 to Rs 1 lakh. Three people can be laid to rest in the same place and it’s a permanent structure. As a result there’s no space left for others. Some churches like Cascia and Rosario have burial ground in Nandigudde and one church in Derebail has gone for a concrete vault system. Meanwhile, newly constructed churches have no reserved space for a cemetery. In such cases, burial is held in the parent church," explained sources. Earlier, the prominent, rich and powerful, as well as priests and nuns were buried inside the church instead of the cemetery. Such tombs can be seen even today in older churches in undivided Dakshina Kannada.
’Udupi diocese has given up tomb system’ : Udupi Diocese, which was formed in 2012, has said no to permanent tombs. "This was one of the biggest challenges I faced after I took over the diocese. With continued efforts and awareness, 80 per cent of people in all churches have agreed voluntarily for a normal burial. This will help others and solve the land issue," said Dr Gerald Isaac Lobo, bishop, Udupi Diocese. He said people have been donating money required to construct permanent tombs towards charity or educational causes. Of late, Catholics in Udupi are going in for cadaver donation to medical colleges.
Vatican guidelines of October, 2016 : * Cremation permitted in Catholic Church since 1963. * Burial still preferred, but cremation is an option. * After cremation, their ashes must be kept intact; they may not be separated or scattered and must be kept in cemetery or church