Originally posted by 2manyquestions
Defecating, urinating, and dumping dead bodies in the same water you bathe in and drink is very, very bad. It spreads disease and makes living conditions even worse than they have to be. If poor isn't enough, being poor and sick is even worse. Having to battle diseases AND hunger at the same time is no fun.
It's not like Westerners have never dumped bodies in water. We've had the Vikings who every now and then cremated a dead body on a boat and sent it down the river (although most were buried in the ground), but generally these cultures eventually learned that burning or burying dead bodies away from the living was a way to control disease and pollution. There was a time when in big cities people would dump their sewage out their window and into the alley. Eventually they learned it wasn't healthy and developed different ways to get rid of sewage. People washed their dirty clothes in rivers, and eventually learned to not do so. Poor people living in the outskirts with no sewers built outhouses for themselves far from the house/shack they lived in, away from their water source.
I don't know if being poor has anything to do with it. I've walked through some poor Roma (Gypsy) areas. These people live in shacks at the edge of town, similar to what is shown in the photos, but I can tell you it didn't smell like death, and there were no dead bodies rotting nearby. I've also been to Mexico where people live in shacks with no electricity or running water, and I didn't smell feces or dead bodies there either. Although these places looked like hell, they couldn't compare to what was shown in those photos. You can be poor and still maintain a certain level of hygiene. One thing is for sure,.... you couldn't get me to come within a mile of the Ganges.
On the other hand if they don't mind living this way, I wouldn't want to stop them. Most of these people grew up doing what they do, so it's hard for them to see anything wrong with it. It's up to the people to decide how they want to live. All I know is that even if I lived in the ghetto or on the street, I'd still want to maintain my living area and keep it as clean as possible. It's one way to avoid extra problems.
There are HINDUS who believe in BURIAL as well. For the one's who practice burning the dead body, the process is to let the body burn completely and then dispose off the ashes in the river of their choice (Ganges). However there is a sad part to the people who are in the profession of burning the dead bodies. There have been several incidents reported where they dont let the body burn completely as soon as the relatives of the dead leave the grounds. The person incharge of the cremation simply puts the fire off and removes the unburnt wood and re-sells it. Poverty is such for certain category of people that making it through the day is a challenge with a one time meal. THe rich are super rich and the middle class is a work horse while the poors dont have anybody. Surely the half burnt corpse is eventually dumped into the river which ofcourse the fishes and other creatures dispose it off. That is their general idea. However the gas based cremation centers see to it that the body has been turned to ashes completely. The ashes are then provided in a container for your purposes. But the country is still going through changes. Hopefully in few more decades and eventually things might change for the poor people.