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British Indians can perform ritual

world Updated: Jul 21, 2007 13:12 IST

IANS
Highlight Story

A river in northern England could soon become Britain's answer to the Ganga as the place for Hindus and Sikhs to scatter the ashes of their loved ones an important Hindu cremation ritual.

Gateshead Council in Tyneside has designated part of Derwent River for Sikhs and Hindus to carry out the ceremony. Bahal Singh Dindsa, a local Sikh, praised the council for being forward-thinking.

Sam Reed of Gateshead Council said (Indian) people have been allowed to scatter the ashes in the Derwent - which flows to the river Tyne - for at least five years.

"It does happen and we do allow it," Reed said. "Our policy emerged as we launched council plans for the next 30 years.

"It goes without saying that it's a good thing for the diverse community."

Environmentalists in Britain have in the past opposed the idea of scattering human remains in rivers for fear of contamination. Many British Indians have been forced to scatter ashes secretly in rivers or take them out to sea - where scattering is allowed.

Some make the long trip to India to scatter the ashes in the Ganga, Sky News reported.

In April this year, a British court had declared that the burning of bodies in the open "is not necessarily unlawful" and that the subject was "an issue of considerable importance", after demands from British Hindus and Sikhs to allow open-air funerals, which are banned in Britain.

Now the Indian community in Canada have also sought a designated waterway for scattering the ashes of the dead after a growing number of Hindus started placing ashes, leaves and flowers in different Canadian waterways raising environmental concerns.