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Greece allows cremation for Indians

Until now, the Orthodox Church was opposed to cremation, describing it as a violation of human body.

india Updated: Mar 11, 2006 14:08 IST

Lawmakers in the Greek parliament have voted overwhelmingly in favour of a new law allowing the dead to be cremated rather than buried, a move that was welcomed by the Indian community in Athens.

Until now, the Greek Orthodox Church was opposed to cremation, describing it as a violation of the human body.

INEP news agency reported that after the law was passed, Interior Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos said: "All guarantees will be provided so that freedom that is now being offered will not become an object of exploitation."

The amendment's rapporteur, ruling New Democracy party Deputy Nikos Georgiadis, pointed out, "Cremation concerns people whose religious beliefs permit it as well as people who consciously choose to deviate from the traditional form of burial in Greece and the traditional order of the Church."

The governing and main opposition parties all voted in favour of the bill, paving the way for the country's first crematorium to be built.

Welcoming the step, Bhaskar Balakrishnan, the Indian ambassador to Greece, said: "This is a welcome development especially for people from India of Hindu and Sikh faith, since it gives the option of cremation, which was earlier not possible in Greece."

Maghar Gandhi, president of Greek-India Culture and Welfare Society, said: "We welcome the decision and it will take away the financial, mental and psychological pressure from the relatives and friends of the dead person."

"We sincerely hope that the law will be implemented soon and cremation facilities created at the earliest.

"At present it takes more than 3,000 euros and a lot of formalities to send the body to India and more than 6,000 euros if the body is taken to Bulgaria for cremation which is the nearest place for doing so," Gandhi added.

First Published: Mar 11, 2006 11:36 IST