The 18-year-old, Sapana Roka Magar has been conducting the last rites of 100s of unidentified and abandoned deceased bodies in Nepal
Sapana Roka Magar is a crematorium worker from Nepal who was included in BBC’s 100 women of 2020, a yearly list of inspiring women around the world.
The 18-year-old works with the Homeless Management and Rehabilitation Center, a Nepalese charity providing assistance to homeless people. Sapana and her team have been providing traditional Hindu funeral rites for abandoned and unidentified deceased bodies for last three years.
Sapana was born into a middle-class family in Nepal. She was a bright meritorious student whose life took a U-turn with a series of events. Sapana was just 14-years-old when she fell in love with a boy. She married him against the will of her family. The marriage didn’t last long and soon Sapana was left to fend for herself. She remained homeless for a few months until she met Binaya Jung Basnet, president of Action For Social Change, who has been cremating bodies for six years.
Binaya Jung became Sapana’s mentor. He allowed Sapana to work with her.
In February, Sapana cremated the first body of a woman of her age, who had an infant wrapped in the plastic.
“The movement to cremate the girl of my own age is a [challenging] task for me. Tears were rolling down my eyes, and my hands and legs were shaking in fear when cremating the body. The infant was also buried in the forest across the Bagmati River as per Hindu tradition,” she said to The Rising Nepal.
The decision to work in the crematorium had its own social backlash. Society shoved the idea of a woman performing the last rites. However, Sapana stood firm on her decision. She has cremated over 100 bodies till now and she wishes to continue the work which has increased exponentially in the face of the pandemic.
Featured image: Kathmandu Tribune