Monday, January 18, 2010

British Hindu Davender Ghai takes funeral pyre battle to Appeal Court

A Hindu Funeral Pyre
    • Paul Rogers/The Times)

      Davender Ghai wishes to be creamted on a Hindu funeral pyre

    • A British Hindu could win the right to be cremated on an open air funeral pyre if appeal court judges agree with his definition of the word "building".

      Davender Ghai, 71, a spiritual healer from Gosforth, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, has been refused permission to be cremated on a traditional open air funeral pyre by Newcastle City Council.

      The decision was upheld by the High Court in 2009 following submissions from the Ministry of Justice that open air funerals could offend public sensibilities.

    • Today Mr Ghai’s case came before the Appeal Court where the Master of the Rolls Lord Neuberger indicated that the entire case could hinge on the legal definition of the word "building".

      Clarifying the position of Mr Ghai, Lord Neuberger said: "He would be happy if there were four walls with an opening in the roof or he would be happy to have a roof if it was on pillars."

      Representing Mr Ghai, Ramby de Mello QC concurred. "What would be unacceptable to Mr Ghai is to have his body sent inside a coffin to be cremated in a chamber," he said.

      The panel of three judges considered pictures of what such a structure might look like.

    • He considers "natural cremations" necessary for him and his fellow Hindus. "I want my soul to arise from the flames like the mythical phoenix, not to be incinerated in an industrial furnace," he said.

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