The UK is to get its first purpose-built crematorium for the Hindu community in Buckinghamshire, south-east England, after a charity organisation won its appeal for the creation of the structure adjacent to its temple building.
The UK’s Planning Inspectorate granted the appeal last week, which means Anoopam Mission UK has the requisite planning permission to erect a crematorium with associated landscape and biodiversity enhancements in Denham. The construction will come up next to the mission’s Swaminarayan Temple at The Lea, Western Avenue, and will cater to the needs of the wider region’s Hindu, Sikh and Jain communities.
“We welcome this important decision and the opportunity for Anoopam Mission to serve the Hindu population of the UK,” said Param Puya Sahebji, the Spiritual Leader of Anoopam Mission.
“Observing antim sanskar or last rites in accordance with our Hindu customs and rituals provides liberation for the departed soul and peace of mind for families during a sensitive time. Our large and tranquil grounds in Denham, with our newly built Mandir facilities, provides an ideal location for this ‘manav sewa’, or service to humanity. We look forward to working with all Hindu organisations to deliver this vision for the whole community,” he said.
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In the decision on an application dating back to November 2019 and backed up by a petition of over 2,000 supporters, the Planning Inspectorate acknowledged the very special circumstances which justify building on what is designated as Green Belt land. In particular, the Planning Inspector noted that for faith and cultural reasons, the Hindu community around the area – which also covers parts of London – are “disadvantaged” by being denied the opportunity to fully observe their cultural and religious beliefs and traditions for funerals and cremations.
“It is recognised by all parties that this proposal would represent the first purpose built Hindu faith crematorium nationally,” the inspector notes.
The proposals were accepted as offering a quality, auspicious and fitting funeral experience for the Hindu community that is currently not provided for in the UK.
“This is a landmark moment for the Hindu community in UK. Many of us have actively campaigned for a purpose-built Hindu crematorium to meet the needs of our community and the provision of better facilities sensitive to our cultural and social requirements,” said Lord Jitesh Gadhia, a British Indian House of Lords peer who spoke in favour of the appeal.
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“I congratulate the Anoopam Mission UK for persevering with this planning application and appeal. The welcome judgment from the Planning Inspector recognises the very special circumstances that exist in meeting the unfulfilled needs of the Hindu community and I hope will enable other facilities to be considered in areas of high Hindu, Sikh and Jain population,” he said.
According to Anoopam Mission, the design of the crematorium building and associated facilities such as a dining hall has been specifically tailored and architecturally designed to fit within the surroundings. The proposal includes two waiting rooms, two private ritual rooms for pre-ceremony rituals, a large ceremony hall and a crematory hall. There is also a separate canteen building, including dining seating and showering facilities. This would enable ritual washing and communal eating following a cremation.