Dhaka residents still prefer burying their loved ones in old, but known graveyards
Despite having all facilities and being the biggest cemetery in Bangladesh, the Rayerbazar graveyard remains relatively unknown to Dhaka dwellers.
People tend to prefer the well-known graveyards, such as the ones in Azimpur and Banani, resulting in one of those being first choice over the relatively unknown one in Rayerbazar.
Dhaka North City Corporation (DNCC) inaugurated the graveyard on March 26, 2016. It covers an area of 96.23 acres, and has the capacity to accommodate nearly 100,000 graves – more than threefold that of Azimpur graveyard.
In last three years, around 3,000-3,500 bodies were buried in the Rayerbazar, meaning on an average three bodies were buried per day. In contrast, some 30-35 bodies are buried at the Azimpur graveyard everyday, where most of them are laid to rest in temporary burial plots.
Rayerbazar graveyard Senior Mohrar (official) Abdul Aziz said almost 95 acres land of the graveyard remain empty, and that people are not really interested to bury their relatives in a graveyard not known to the general public.
“First of all, people usually prefer Azimpur graveyard because it is old and well-known to people.
“When someone has been buried in Azimpur or other known graveyards, relatives also wish to be buried there instead of in a new one,” he said.
Liyakot Sarkar, manager of the graveyard, said though the people of Rayerbazar and nearby areas know about the graveyard, most residents of other areas are unaware of it.
“Because of being new a graveyard, people are not interested in it. If the authorities could spread the information about this new graveyard, more people would be interested in burying their relatives here,” he added.
Why people prefer older graveyards
Urban planners and residents of Rayerbazar said the Rayerbazar graveyard has been built in a well-planned way. However, most of the city dwellers are unaware of the existence of the biggest graveyard in the country.
Professor Dr Nazrul Islam, chairman of the Centre for Urban Studies, said: "I do not know why people buy their burial plots from Real Estate Expo, when DNCC has arranged such a large graveyard for city dwellers.
“DNCC has to inform people about the graveyard. They should conduct more campaigns in this regard. The mayor should arrange a program to for the public," he said.
Hafizul Islam, senior mohrar of Azimpur graveyard said: "This is all about the people’s mindset about where to bury their relatives. Most people want to be buried where their family members were laid to rest.
“Another reason for choosing the 400-year-old Azimpur graveyard is because a lot of famous religious people are buried here,” he added.
Abu Taher Khan, councillor in DNCC Ward 34, said: "To increase acceptance of the graveyard, high officials should coordinate with commissioners to conduct more field level campaigning.
“The security system of the graveyard needs to be strengthened, and makeshift shops adjacent to the graveyard wall should be removed,” he said.
Jamir Uddin, a resident of Lalbagh area came to the Azimpur graveyard to pay respects to his mother. When asked why he had not chosen Rayerbazar graveyard, he said: “Azimpur graveyard is walking distance from my home. We have also buried our relatives at this graveyard."
Jan-e Alam Chowdhury, a resident of Mirpur area, said: “I have heard about the graveyard but do not know any details about it."
Amanullah Bhuiyan from Farmgate area said: "We all know about the Azimpur graveyard. Even though the one in Rayerbazar is the largest graveyard, we know very little about it."
ASM Mamun, DNCC public relations officer said: "Last year, we sent newsletters to every holding, and also conducted campaigns on social media. The details of the graveyard is available on the DNCC website."
Burial cost at the Rayerbazar graveyard
Rayerbazar graveyard’s Senior Mohrar Abdul Aziz said: "According to the city corporation fees, the burial cost is Tk500 for each grave.”
Kiron Mala, a resident of Chanmia Housing area, told Dhaka Tribune that last year she had to pay Tk2,500 as the burial cost for her mother at the Rayerbazar graveyard.
On the other hand, at the Azimpur graveyard, people do not need to spend any money as DSCC takes responsibility for the burial.
Senior mohrar of the Azimpur graveyard said since September 9, 2018, there has been no burial cost.