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Ivar Madham on the Banks of Bharathapuzha River – the Busiest Hindu Crematorium in Kerala

Ivar Madham, on the Banks of Bharathapuzha River, at Pampady in Thrissur District in Kerala is one of the busiest Hindu Crematoriums in Kerala. Ivar Madham is one of the public crematoriums located on the banks of river in Kerala and is also associated with the Pandavas of the Mahabharata. Legend has it that the Pandavas, after the battle of Kurukshetra in Mahabharata, went to several places performing the ancestral rites for the deceased relatives in the war. Unsuccessful in freeing the souls of the departed, they traveled south and reached Pampady, where Lord Krishna advised them to perform the last rites, which they then completed successfully.

Some of popular writers and Kathakali artists have been cremated at the Ivar Madham. The spot has become so famous that people from different places in Kerala are now choosing Ivar Madham for cremation.

Ajayan writes in Livemint about Korappath Ramesh, a double post graduate, who organizes the cremations at Ivar Madham with precision and relatives of the dead are spared the long waiting periods and above all there is no extortion here which is a common sight in many crematoriums across India.

Korappath Ramesh makes a living from death — the ultimate recession-proof industry. But it’s more than just a job for the double postgraduate (in economics and history) — conducting cremations is a calling for the 38-year-old.

“I never thought that this would be the course of my life, my career,” says Ramesh. Ramesh was first drawn to Ivar Madham because one of the family’s farm hands, P. Vella, was an expert at cremations and would be called whenever a body arrived at the site. Ramesh would watch him readying the pit, cutting the firewood and laying it over the body.

While his parents weren’t too happy about what they considered the boy’s unhealthy fascination, by the time he completed school, Ramesh had mastered all that was involved in the art and ritual of cremation.

In 2002, he formed the Korappath Trust, under his family name, to undertake cremations.

The price for a cremation is Rs1,800 and there are about 60 of them per day, which translates into an annual revenue of approximately Rs4 crore. From firewood to priests to conducting the last rites, everything is organized with clockwork precision and the relatives of the deceased are spared the long waiting periods that are the norm at other cremation ghats. Ramesh will also arrange ambulances to transport dead bodies at a nominal charge and collect and keep the ashes to be picked up later.

The poor get a discount while unclaimed bodies brought by the police are cremated for free.

You can read about Ivar Madham and Korappath Ramesh here at Livemint – Death as a vocation at the busiest crematorium in Kerala