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Why are we looking at 'Burial in a Shroud'
as a possibility?

Holy Family Church, Chakala

What is the History of burial in a shroud?
Historically we know that Jesus' body was wrapped in a 'linen shroud' and that the Early Christians carried on this Jewish custom for many centuries. Coffins were used only for monarchs & bishops. Its only later on it became more common. The reason being, to preserve the body from decay and also to avoid the spread of contagious diseases.
But just because Jesus & the early Christians were buried in a shroud, in itself is not a reason why we should reconsider burial in a shroud.

Then, Why are we suggesting to go back to the original Christian way of 'Burial in a shroud'?

  1. Decomposing of bodies wrapped in a shroud will be much faster than what it takes in a coffin.
  2. Environment: It will saves on cutting of trees which can be done away with.
  3. The Cost of a coffin is anywhere between Rs 3,500 - 25,500 and more. Since, some poorer or richer persons may not want to do any cost cutting when it comes to burying their loved ones, it is suggested that the money that would have been spent on a coffin may now be given to a specific charity your loved one contributed to while alive.
What does the Church have to say about 'Burial in a shroud'?
On speaking with the Chancellor at Archbishops house, we were told, "There is no canonical reason why you can't have a Christian burial in a shroud"

Has it been tried in and around Mumbai?
  1. Tribal Christians at Talasari, Manor bury in a shroud.
  2. Vasai diocese common practice: Many parishes in Vasai diocese have since some years decided to bury their dead in a shroud for the above mentioned reasons.
  3. Some churches in Bombay have had a few shroud burials - e.g. Kalina Church and kurla Church.
What is the Method of burial?
  1. The body will be wrapped in a linen shroud
  2. A Reusable common coffin will be used to take the body up to the cemetery.
  3. The burial will take place wrapped in a linen shroud but without the coffin.
  4. No matter what method, The DIGNITY of a Christian burial will always be maintained.
If burial in a shroud is started at Holy family church will it be made compulsory?
For the reasons given above, it will be strongly encouraged, but never will it be made compulsory. It will always be optional.
Remember, There will be times when we 'may' still need to use coffins:
  1. Very Heavy Rains
  2. Contagious disease
  3. Accidents etc.
What about the Undertaker?
As most do now, we will still need the undertaker to help you get a burial certificate, for the use of the Hearse, AC coffin (when required), grave Cross & Slab, niche etc.
We have spoken to various undertakers like Ronny undertaker, Marol & St Anthony Undertakers Bamanwada. They are ready to help out and even provide reusable coffins, and then one can decide with them on the method of lowering the body, whether with nylon belts or the lowering machine with a simple system to place the shrouded body directly on it.

What is the process the church is following to get the views of parishioners?
  1. In April 2015 at 'Harmony' (i.e. a meeting of representatives of our various groups) it was first mentioned.
  2. Since June we have taken it up at the Parish Council and SCC meetings and Liturgy committee meetings.
  3. Since we want as many parishioners to give us their suggestions & opinion we are preaching about it all masses and requesting interested persons to give us their response.
  4. Hand out with attached form:
    • Each interested individual (parishioners 18 years and above) will fill a form, stating if they are, 'For', 'Against' or 'Indifferent' and state the reason for their choice.
    • Forms for the same are placed in the boxes outside the church. Filled forms are to be dropped in the community welfare boxes by 27th September.
    • Important: When filling the form, please remember that what we want to know is not if you would like to be buried in a shroud, but your opinion about parishioners in general being buried in a shroud. Please return the filled form by 27th September.
  5. 5th Sept 6 p.m. Open session in the Parish Hall for your suggestions or Clarifications
  6. 4th Oct it will be taken up a joint Parish Council and steering committee meeting
Please remember three things:
  1. No dead line to start: Once we go through the reasons and see that a majority are in favor only then will we officially announce it. Though individual parishioners are free to bury in a shroud even now.
  2. Strongly encouraged but always Optional: Family or individuals preferences will always be respected.
  3. Always a Dignified funeral: Whether burial in a shroud or coffin, we must ensure that our departed loved ones have a dignified and meaningful burial.