UK Hindus fight for cremation right

via published on April 10, 2007

In a significant case for the 559,000 Hindus in Britain, a British court will review whether open air cremations are unlawful.

Davender Kumar Ghai, 68, from Gosforth, Newcastle, had organised an open air pyre for Rajpal Mehat in a Northumberland field in July 2006.

The Department of Constitutional Affairs and the Newcastle City Council had held that the Anglo-Asian Friendship Society — which Ghai is the president of — had breached Britain’s Cremation Act 1902, according to Chronicle Live , a Newcastle local newspaper.

Ghai filed a judicial review petition, and High Court judge Justice Andrew Collins has ruled that open air cremations are ‘not necessarily unlawful.’ Just ice Collins also noted that the matter is of importance to Hindus, reports The Times.

Ghai, who The Times says is ailing, wants to fight the legal battle for all Hindus — the third-largest faith group in Britain — in the country, and for the right for his last rites being conducted according to his faith.

‘Only if the law is made clear in favour of pyres can I incorporate a clause into my will that would complete a lifetime spiritual journey as a proud and active British Hindu,’ Ghai told The Times.

 ‘We have proved to be a model migrant community and we feel hurt that other groups are allowed to undertake their funeral rites while we are left out,’ he added.

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