Each morning I wake to more devastating news from India, where I grew up and spent my early career as a health reporter. As the second wave of COVID-19 surged, India’s weak health infrastructure crumbled – leaving some people waiting outside overcrowded hospitals, gasping for oxygen and pleading for a bed. In my daily calls, I hear more names of friends, relations and familiar people who have died. Bodies line up outside crematoriums and cemeteries, with no place to accommodate them.

Texas State University’s Natasha Mikles, who studies how the dead are prepared for their final journey in Asian societies, writes how this “unprecedented cultural cataclysm” has forced people in India to change some age-old death rituals.

Also today:

Kalpana Jain

Senior Religion + Ethics Editor

Mass cremations in the city of Bengaluru, India, due to the large number of COVID-19 deaths. Abhishek Chinnappa/Getty Images)

Indians are forced to change rituals for their dead as COVID-19 rages through cities and villages

Natasha Mikles, Texas State University

As cremation grounds struggle to keep up with the long line of people dying from COVID-19, age-old customs are being pushed aside.


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