Church gives Hindu funeral to its hospital doctor

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

THIRUVALLA - He was a Hindu and one of their longest serving doctors, so a Kerala church broke from tradition Tuesday to cremate him in the premises of a hospital run by it. The Bhagwad Gita and the Bible both found a place at his prayer service.

B. Brijesh Kumar Singh, 61, a native of Bihar, had been an orthopaedic surgeon at the Pushapagiri Medical College run by the Malankara Catholic Church run here for 28 years.

Thiruvalla is 130 km from state capital Thiruvananthapuram.

Singh was in a hotel near Kochi to catch a flight from there to Bihar Saturday when he suffered a cardiac arrest and died.

Rev Fr Thomas Kodinattukunnu said: “His family members asked us if a Hindu cremation could be carried out and we agreed to do it in our compound itself.”

And sure enough on Tuesday, his body was taken to an open place in the hospital compound. Leading the cremation were Hindu priests even as two dozen Christian priests led by the diocesan head Archbishop Thomas Mar Coorilos watched the ceremony. The archbishop also prayed on the occasion.

“A special pyre was made. After the cremation, the ashes will be collected and family members will take it to his hometown in Bihar,” said Thomas Kodinattukunnu.

Singh is survived by his parents and a daughter, all of whom live in Bihar. His brother and other family members have reached here.

“We held an ecumenical prayer service led by our bishop and Christian priests Monday. Verses were read from the Bhagwad Gita and hymns were sung. Then the Bible was read and Christian songs were sung,” said Thomas Kodinattukunnu.

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