Bettagere in Chikkamagaluru has a common area for cremation

The issue of non-availability of land to cremate or bury the dead is common in rural areas.

However, residents of Bettagere in Mudigere taluk have not faced this problem. For over a century, the village residents have been cremating the dead at one place, irrespective of caste.

“I don’t know when this system took shape. We have heard from our elders that this has been the practice for more than a century,” said B.B. Ningaiah, Mudigere MLA and native of Bettagere.

In fact, Mr. Ningaiah told the Legislative Assembly about the practice when the issue of Dalits facing difficulty in getting land to conduct a funeral came up for discussion in July 2014.

Bettagere village has over 400 houses and Vokkaligas, Dalits, Billavas, Brahmins and Jains reside here. People of all castes, by and large, cremate the dead in the Malnad region. Seven acres and 23 guntas of land in the outskirts of the village has been notified as cremation ground.

Preparations are being made to construct a crematorium here.

“People belonging to Scheduled Castes don’t find land to cremate the dead. Most of them do not possess land and have to depend on others to cremate their loved ones. The practice in Bettagere is worth emulating,” said Shankarappa, leader of Bahujan Samaj Party.

Last year, a Dalit woman had to cremate her husband’s body near Bengaluru-Mangaluru highway on the outskirts of Hassan. Revenue Minister V. Srinivas Prasad, in the Assembly, sought the cooperation of the MLAs to introduce a common burial ground system in villages.

We’ve heard from our elders that this has been the practice for more than a century

B.B. Ningaiah,Mudigere MLA