Hindus, Sikhs in UK seek right to open-air cremations

via H.S. Rao – London published on February 2, 2006

Hindus and Sikhs in Britain have sought the right to cremate their dead on funeral pyres at open-air ceremonies, a practice banned in the UK since 1930.


The Anglo-Asian Friendship Society, representing almost 2000 Hindus and Sikhs, said the ban on the use of open-air funeral pyres, dating back to 1930, unfairly penalised followers of both religions.


It has approached a local authority to seek land for open-air cremations and is threatening to take the case to the European court of Human rights.


According to an official estimate, of the 600,000 people a year who die in Britain, 70 per cent are cremated. While the cost of a simple burial service has gone up to 3,307 pounds, the cost of cremations has reached 1,954 pounds.


The Anglo-Asian Friendship Society, a charity, said its proposal for pyres located at sites across the country, beginning with one near Newcastle upon Tyne, would meet all planning and environmental requirements.


Lawyers working for the Society, which is based in Gosforth, near Newcastle, have prepared a case to be heard under the 1988 Human Rights Act.


The documentation, claiming that the government’s refusal to allow funeral pyres makes it impossible for Hindus and Sikhs to practise their religion, was presented to New castle City Council this week.


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