Startups Are Offering Online Funeral Kits

MUMBAI

From providing cow urine, incense and bamboo stretchers to booking a priest at the last minute, startups are seeking to cash in on India’s elaborate traditional funeral ceremonies.

Grieving families normally have to rush between shops buying dozens of items needed to say goodbye to loved ones but now online companies are selling “final rites kits”.

Many bereaved relatives  particularly busy professionals in burgeoning cities  see the services as a godsend  but traditional family-run funeral shops say their businesses are hurting.

When Mumbai businessman Parag Mehta had to arrange a second family funeral in two weeks he was short of time and ordered a kit online.

A box arrived containing 38 items for a Hindu ceremony including earthen pots, incense sticks, cow urine and dung, rice, sesame seeds and rose water. “It made our lives easier in an extremely emotional and stressful time,” said Mehta, 52.

Hindu funerals typically involve anointing the body with sandalwood paste, the burning of cow dung and the breaking of coconuts. Family members carry the deceased into the crematorium on a bamboo stretcher. They then circle the funeral pyre with an earthen pot before consigning the body to fire. The ashes are often immersed in Ganga.