16 January, 2021

The Grateful Dead Hymns

How some unclaimed bodies finish their last journey with dignity, and why it's important to help

The Grateful Dead Hymns
He is our answer to the legendary Pakistani social worker Maulana Edhi. Like Edhi, he has chosen a trajectory of life where death stares him in the face every day. From one unknown human being to another. From one cremation ground to the next. Jitender Singh Shunty is a 42-year-old Sikh in Delhi who has taken upon himself to perform the last rites of those who have nobody in this world to cremate or bury them. Shunty moves to and fro, dispensing favours to those who can return none, not like a philanthropist do-gooder, but someone who thinks that a human being deserves the dignity due to him in the final journey from planet earth.

Shunty used to be a carefree man. He belonged to a well-off family which ran a thriving transport business. But something suddenly snapped inside him one day when he saw a man stealing wood from a burning pyre at Delhi’s Nigambodh Ghat cremation ground. Shocked, Shunty confronted him. Weeping uncontrollably, the middle-aged man said that he had lost his wife in an accident and didn’t have enough money to perform the last rituals. He had no...



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