Nobody deserves to die feeling unwanted. That’s the thought that drives Goutham who has, in the last six years, performed the last rites of over 800 people most of them abandoned, destitute and orphans.
The 33-year-old founder of Serve Needy Voluntary Organization and Orphanage Home is support by his his parents, C Venkataramana Reddy and C Lalitha Reddy, and a handful of volunteers, in this work. From getting the death certificate, obtaining necessary permissions and organising the items necessary for rituals, Kumar and his team do it all.
They even conduct the post funeral rites, like ‘pind-daan’. Interestingly, it’s mostly women volunteers who help him with the rituals, despite a taboo around such practices. The Rs 6,000 (approx.) spent on each funeral is mostly paid out of Goutam’s pocket or from the leftover donations that come in for other projects, he is involved in. Their other social service projects include providing food and clothes to the poor, encouraging organic farming and distributing those vegetables in homes for free, making logs out of cow dung so as to reduce usage of wood in funerals, contributing basic amenities at government schools and recycling waste paper into notebooks that are then distributed among poor tribals.