contention is that open-air pyres fall outside
the 1902 Cremation Act, which regulates
what happens inside a crematorium, defined
as "any building fitted with appliances
for the purpose of burning human remains".
The hearing in November is expected to last
Singh Dogan, the legal coordinator of the
multi-faith Anglo-Asian Friendship Society,
said a positive outcome would primarily
benefit Hindus, although people from all
backgrounds could opt for an open-air cremation.
"An open-air pyre is £500 and
a cheaper alternative to a traditional cremation,
which costs at least £2,000 and has
you in and out in half an hour. An open-air
pyre allows you to make it an all-day event,
where you can eat, drink and cry and make
it a family occasion."
who is the head of the friendship society,
was responsible for the first human funeral
pyre in Britain since 1934, when the Home
Office authorised the outdoor cremation
of Sumshere Jung, a Nepalese princess and
the wife of the Nepalese ambassador.
also arranged for the body of Rajpal Mehat,
a 31-year-old Indian illegal immigrant found
drowned in a London canal, to be burnt on
a wooden pyre at a secret location in Northumberland
in 2006. Newcastle council deemed the ceremony
illegal and a police file was passed to
the Crown Prosecution Service, but he was
ultimately let off without prosecution.
Jay Lakhani, of the Hindu Academy, described
open-air cremation as an "antiquated
practice". He told the Guardian: "Modern
India is growing up and in tiny villages
where they don't have facilities they have
these pyres. In Britain we are very lucky
to have hygienic crematoriums. The ceremonial
aspects should evolve to reflect the changes