Jaipur6 hours agoAuthor: Vikram Singh Solanki
Seeing the burning pyres in the crematorium, 8-year-old Maya used to hide in her mother’s lap in fear. As the day turned dark, I used to get scared, but one thing my mother said changed her life.
‘Son, if you are scared, you will starve, there is no shame in working.’
Today the same Maya has cremated more than 15,000 unclaimed dead bodies in the crematorium in the last 60 years.
When the bier that comes to the crematorium lacks a shoulder, it itself becomes a support. From the burning pyre’s hair till the fire cools down, she sits there and waits. After the sun sets, she sleeps fearlessly by placing a cot near the smoldering pyre.
Today in Sunday Story, the story is of that Mayadevi Banjara, who made the cremation ground a home. While there, gave birth to nine children.
When four sons died, he did not allow himself to be broken. Gave fire to their funeral pyres, which were abandoned by our own people.
When the Bhaskar team arrived in Triveni Nagar Moksha Dham in Jaipur in search of Mayadevi, an elderly woman wearing a red chunari was carrying soil on a cycle rickshaw.
We stopped them and asked where Maya Devi would be found. He replied without stopping – Son, I am Maya… my mobile number is written outside…. you can call anytime and tell. They thought that we had come to talk about the rites of an unclaimed corpse.
When we introduced ourselves, he stopped work and asked us to sit on a chair near the shed where the pyre was lit. After completing her work, Mayadevi came to the door and sat beside us.
Our first question and their answer
As soon as it gets dark, people are afraid to go to the crematorium, you are not afraid of ghosts and ghosts. Maya Devi’s answer to this first question of ours was – Fear is felt from the living people, what will scare the person who has become dead himself? After this Mayadevi herself narrated her life.
Father dies at the age of 9 months, mother brought up
My father died when I was 9 months old. We were four sisters and one brother. Couldn’t read much. Was able to go to school only till the sixth grade. When there was a shortage of food too, mother Gulabi Devi started living in the crematorium in Jaipur itself. The mother brought up the whole family. The sisters were married. Mother ended the fear of ghosts.
When she saw pyres, she used to run away.
When I was 8 years old, seeing the pyre coming in the crematorium, I used to run away in fear. She did not even keep her feet in the crematorium. Mother sensed my fear. Mother Pink Goddess used to smoke beedi. Then she used to call her in the crematorium with a beedi. Used to say only one thing… ‘If the son is afraid, then he will die of hunger, what is the fear in doing the work.’ These words of mother took away all my fear. I started cleaning with him in the crematorium itself.
When a dead body came, mother used to call me lovingly nearby. When the fear started to end, along with the mother, she used to keep wood on the pyre. About 14 years ago, mother Gulabi Devi died at the age of 112. Since then, I do the entire ritual myself in the crematorium alone.
Fought hunger, made crematorium a home
Soon the marriage took place. I made this crematorium my home. Nine children were born, but four died. The husband did not have any employment. When I saw him fighting with hunger, the mother said – don’t be ashamed, otherwise you will die of hunger. No one will even come to ask.
It is not a wrong act to cremate pyres in the crematorium. Then she started performing cremation in the crematorium itself to raise children. She used to decorate the pyre herself by weighing the wood in the scales. Now I also get worship done with mantras, although many people bring pundits along. I also get hair done after cremation.
‘Even if 10 dead bodies come, you have to take a bath every time’
Maya Devi tells that along with karma, she takes full care of religion. Funeral rites are considered one of the 16 sacraments in Hinduism. After the cremation, when the pyre becomes cold, one has to take a bath for purification. Sometimes four to 10 dead bodies also come a day. No matter how many dead bodies come, she takes a bath every time. Sometimes the dead bodies come even after the sun sets.
If the pyre does not burn completely, then wood has to be planted again. People leave the burning pyre after getting the rituals done. Even if it is 2 o’clock in the night, I still take a bath and sleep. There is no fear in the crematorium, day or night. Sometimes one has to sleep by placing a cot near the smoldering pyre.
Maya Devi tells that many times people refuse to get her cremated. It is said that women do not do this work. I never listen to people. There is no shame in work. I don’t do wrong things, the fire in my stomach forces me to do everything. Now women have come a long way. She does everything from flying a plane. People tried several times to get me out of the crematorium.
Things were scary in Corona
For two years, the situation was quite frightening due to corona infection, but did not lose courage. The committee had refused to bring the dead bodies to the crematorium during Corona. The committee said that if the dead bodies of Corona come here, a lot of infection will spread around.
Many times such people also came who had no one in their family to shoulder. In such a situation, he helped the people by opposing the committee. The dead bodies were also shouldered. Even there were many dead bodies which had no one. Then he himself got the cremation done.
Bought a car with his own money for unclaimed dead bodies
Maya tells that a large number of unclaimed dead bodies also come in the crematorium. If there is an accident anywhere, if they are cut off from the train, then the police bring the dead bodies after conducting post-mortem. She sends her car to get the dead bodies. The car installment is also being deposited.
She says that she has cremated more than 15 thousand dead bodies. Sometimes such dead bodies also come, seeing which people’s soul trembles, but she never panics. In the crematoriums of Mansarovar and Mahesh Nagar, people sometimes call for cremation.
Now the story of the mother who has been searching for her son in the crematorium for 15 years.
There are such women in Sikar too, who have been living in the crematorium for 15 years. Dharmana Mokshadham collects wood to help the people who come for the last rites. A woman named Rajkanwar lost her son in a road accident in the year 2008. There was no child, so he cremated the son with his own hands.
Rajkanwar felt so sad for not being able to talk to a piece of his heart for the last time that he started living in the crematorium. Whatever dead body comes to the crematorium, Raj Kanwar gets it cremated considering it as her son. Even today she believes that her son is alive. (Click on this link to read the full story)
Watch the rest of Sunday Big Story’s episode here:
1. The cost of 1 kg of hair equal to the iPhone-14: Know how your hair reaches after cutting, falling or breaking
The price of hair is determined by the quality. Many times a kilo of hair costs so much that one can buy one and a half tola gold chain or buy the latest version of iPhone-14. The demand for hair of North Indians is so high that the buyers are ready to pay up to Rs 1 lakh for a kilo.(Click here to read full news)