Wednesday, 8 April 2009

Hindu funeral pyres

There is a debate that has now reached the British High Courts about whether a devout Hindu should be allowed to have an open funeral pyre for his death.
When words such as 'dignity' and 'human rights' are used, then it will invoke powerful emotions in all who take an interest. As a humanist and an atheist I can see different sides of the argument.

1) He sincerely believes that it will benefit him in the next life.
2) Open air cremations are an important part of Hindu culture.
3) There is currently no provision for an open air cremation.

I personally am not against the idea of an open air cremation. And Mr Ghai agrees that there should be regulation involved. But what does concern me is the argument used.

Religion. A religious right?

It seems that the religious trump card is being played again. Why should this have any bearing on the case?

Seriously. Think about it. Do you think I would stand a chance in court if I said that, "I am an atheist and I demand an open funeral pyre in accordance with my non-belief!"

Personally, I would LOVE a big fire (and fireworks) but I really don't think I would stand a chance in court. Mind you, if Mr Ghai gets his wish, then I think I might actually have a go... (Actually my inevitable death will be the subject of a future post.)

Good luck Mr Ghai, it DOES mean a lot to you and your family and, as we are a multi culture country, I sincerely hope that there will be a decision in your favour made in the High Court.

As of yet, no decision has been reached.


  1. Reminds me of the priest who used canabis as his sacrament. I can't remember the court ruling, but I think it involved a sheep on a piece of string...

  2. I'm not on the face of it that enamoured by the thought of public barbeques for any religion. This is a densely populated wet country and whilst, I have no objection to his exercising his particular brand of superstition, there is a possibility of public nuisance being caused if it tips with rain on his pyre. If he's so keen on being cremated outdoors then back to India with him. Otherwise it would best if he accepts that as he left his own country for reasons of personal choice, he should not expect to import everything of India at his whim.

  3. The result was announced today.

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