Funeral Pyres around the world
Cueta is a Spanish enclave in Morocco situated on the Straits of Gibraltar and in 1998 the Government of Ceuta granted the Hindu Community land and funding to construct a funeral pyre site.
Gibraltar’s 30,000 population is largely Catholic but is rich with religious diversity and has a Hindu community of approximately 600. Funeral pyre grounds have been available since the late 19th Century and are presently self-regulated by the Hindu Merchants’ Association (HMA), the official representative body for the Gibraltar Hindu Community. HMA President Mr Vikram Nagrani and HMA Legal Counsel Mr John Restano report that, “there have never been any complaints or opposition by non-Hindu Gibraltarians against open air cremations either formally or informally.”
Every funeral pyre is first sanctioned by the Births and Deaths Registrar and the Chief Environmental Health Officer and prior notification is given to the Fire Brigade. HMA confirms, “there have never been any heath and safety concerns or incidents arising from these open air cremations.”
In 1995 the Shambhala Mountain Center opened its funeral pyre cremation site after the Board of Larimer County Commissioners and Colorado State Emergency Services Co-ordinator and Larimer County Fire Department approved the site and the County Health Department and State Department’s Air Quality Division sanctioned its use.
The site is not visible from outside the center and is about ½ mile from the nearest public road. The nearest residential housing is 1 to 2 miles away. The site is manned by SMC staff, co-ordinated by a permanent Fire Marshall and on average 40 – 100 people attend a cremation.
Richard A. Swaback, Director of Expansion and Planning, confirms that, “In our experience, the whole process is a moving and respectful one…we have never heard a negative word from our local neighbours, all find the event and the ceremony a most rewarding and very positive experience. It is done with much dignity and ceremony.”
In Nov 2005, Baba Ghai personally concluded negotiations with Government of Pakistan representatives to successfully establish dedicated Hindu and Sikh funeral pyre cremation grounds on Lahore’s Band Road (Abu Sabu Interchange) – on land granted by the Evacuee Property Trust Board (Waqaaf Board).
The Government of Pakistan also funded the construction of on-site buildings and facilities and the site is now managed under AAFS (Pakistan) Representative Dr Munawar Chand.
See Campaign Chronology for further details.