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Cow Dung Cakes to Replace Wood in Varanasi’s Cremation Ghats

While this move has already got some opposition from the wood-sellers, many Vedic scholars, pundits, and the administration have backed this move.

The Manikarnika Ghat in Varanasi sees at least 100 cremations a day, if not more. About 300 to 400 kilograms of wood is required for the cremation of one body.

So if you do that math, the numbers will leave you astounded. About 3000 to 4000 kilograms of wood is used each day in one Ghat in Varanasi alone.

One of the many Ghats in Varanasi
Photo credits: Vidya Raja

In a bid to reduce the environmental burden we are putting on the Himalayan forests, given that the demand is for hardwood, Varanasi is set to become the first city in Uttar Pradesh to use only cow dung cakes for cremation – in place of hardwood.

While this move has already got some opposition from the wood-sellers, many Vedic scholars, pundits, and the administration have backed this move.

“There is no `dosh’ (harm) in using cow dung cakes in cremation. In fact, cow dung cakes have always been used along with wood,” Vedic scholar Chandramauli Upadhyaya said.

Cow dung cakes
Photo Source: Wikimedia Commons

“It has been a tradition in Sanatan Dharma to use cow dung cakes in cremation,” scholar Vijay Shankar Pandey said, as reported in the ToI.

According to the Kashi Mokshdayini Samiti, the practice of using cow dung cakes is already in use in cities like Nagpur, Jaipur, Rohtak, Jalgaon, Indore, Raipur, Kolkata, and Rourkela.

Environment scientist BD Tripathi said the system would reduce pollution.

“A study has shown that about 33,000 bodies are cremated in Varanasi annually. This consumes 16,000 tonnes of wood and generates 800 tonnes of ash,” he said to ToI.

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