Hindu loses fight for UK open-air funeral pyre

Fri May 8, 2009 6:49am EDT
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LONDON (Reuters Life!) - A devout Hindu lost his High Court battle on Friday for the right to be cremated in Britain on a traditional open-air funeral pyre.

Spiritual healer Baba Davender Kumar Ghai, 70, from Gosforth, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, was challenging a refusal by the local council to allow him to be cremated in accordance with his Hindu beliefs.

Ghai says a pyre is essential to "a good death" and the release of his spirit into the afterlife.

But British law states that the burning of human remains anywhere outside a crematorium is prohibited and Newcastle council had blocked his application on the grounds that it was impractical.

Justice Cranston dismissed his High Court challenge, saying the council's denial was justified, the Press Association reported.

Had the judges had ruled in favor of Ghai, it could have set a precedent for the 560,000 Hindus living in Britain.

Hindu national organizations, representing some 90 percent of Hindus in the UK, had backed the High Court appeal.

(Reporting by Stefano Ambrogi; Editing by Steve Addison)