Just a couple of weeks ago, Sukhant Funeral Management became a hot topic in social media along with a picture of the company’s stall at Delhi’s Trade Fair going viral across platforms. The name of the company and picture of their stall drew mixed reaction from netizens leaving some people shocked, some surprised and some disturbed.
In Indian society, funeral rites, be it for a person belonging to any community or religion have been traditionally performed by the deceased’s family, friends, relatives and neighbours. Hiring a company for a paid funeral service is a concept completely unknown to us!
Book them for someone else’s or pre-plan your own funeral
Not only hiring them for someone else’s funeral, a person can actually become their member while still being alive and pre-plan their own funeral in advance! Says Mr Sanjay Ramgude, Founder-director, Sukhant Funeral Management Pvt Ltd.
“The major purpose of this company is to ensure that a person concludes his/her life with dignity. We offer funeral and cremation service, which is known as ‘antim sanskaar’ in our society. We give a pre-planned funeral. As in, a person who is aged above 50-60 years and has lived their life to the fullest and doesn’t want to trouble anyone for funeral rites after his/her death can choose to hire us for the same. These people can take membership with us.
Death is obvious for any person who takes birth but nobody knows when it will come. We live our life for ourselves, our family, our society and for our country. But not all of us know that who will take part in our last rites. Normally, our children, family members and relatives take part in this. But if you don’t want to give trouble to others and plan this in advance, then your funeral will be as per your wish,” Sanjay Ramgude told The CSR Journal.
The company offers services like performing funeral, hiring a priest as per the deceased’s religion, providing the items required for the final rites ritual, ambulance service to shift the deceased from hospital to home and later to the crematorium for the final rites, dead body embalming, organ donation and mortuary service. Currently, the company is operating in Mumbai, Thane, Navi Mumbai, Pune and Nashik.
“If a person takes membership with us, as long as they are alive, we will celebrate their special occasions like birthday, wedding anniversary etc. We will keep the contacts of 50 persons from his/her close family/friend circle and our team will be in touch with them. If our member has any wish after death, like organ donation, we will implement that. These days mostly children of the deceased fly from other parts of the country or from abroad which takes 2-3 days. Till that time, we will keep the body in the mortuary and arrange for the documentation etc. After that, we will perform the last rites as per the person’s religion and culture. We cater to people of every religion and respect their sentiments,” the founder added.
Relatives of NRIs, senior citizens living alone, nuclear family
“If a person is not our member, still their family/friends/neighbours can contact us for performing the funeral. People go outside their hometown or abroad for education and jobs. NRIs who come to India after learning about their parent’s demise, people who reside in nuclear families or living alone, we mostly cater to them. Nowadays the family size is reducing in India. Earlier people used to have 5-6 children but now couples have 1-2 children maximum. After any person’s death, their children need people and support to perform the last rites. We are there for that service,” he further said.
Why such a venture
What inspired a venture like funeral management? Mr Ramgude replied, “I have worked as a cinematographer, director and producer for 30 years in the entertainment industry and in advertising. Several years ago, while shooting for a film in Varanasi, I would stand and observe last rites performed by the family of a deceased person. Then this thought came across my mind that we all deserve a dignified and respectful farewell to life. That inspired me to do something on this.”
A business venture offering funeral service is something very novel and unknown to the Indian society. This raises a few deeply disturbing questions— Is this the future for our coming generations due to shrinking family size in urban India or are we becoming too busy in the present time to even take part in bidding a final goodbye to our near and dear ones?