Hindus in Australia to have first funeral pavilion

Australia is set to have a funeral pavilion dedicated solely to Hindus, the first facility of its kind in Southern Hemisphere southasia.com.au has been told.

According to an official at Australian Council of Hindu Clergy, the Government of New South Wales has agreed to construct the facility at Macquarie Park Cemetery and Crematorium in Sydney.

Hindu Sydney
Sydney’s Hindu clergies with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi who is a devout Hindu himself.

Katrina Hodgkinson, the Minister for Primary Industries in the Baird government, had visited the site of the proposed pavilion on 18 June last year to discuss the project with Hindu clergies.

The office of the minister was contacted for further information on the subject but it did not respond.

Hindu funerals are ‘messy’ and full of religious and cultural observances. This creates pressure on the concerned priests to rush when Hindus share funeral chapels with other faiths.

But the dedicated pavilion, to be called the Lotus Pavilion, means Hindu priests and family members of the deceased will be able to carry out the last rites at their own pace and in the way Hindu scriptures prescribe. “We do not want to be rushed to finish the funeral just because there is another one after” says the Council’s public relations officer Pandit Sri Rama Ramanuja Achari.

It is noteworthy that 2011 Census had revealed Hinduism as the fastest growing religion in Australia. A total of 148,130 Australians had reported their affiliation with the Hindu faith in 2006 Census whereas the number went up to 275,534 in 2011 Census.

Hindu Sydney
Minister Katrina Hodgkinson with members of Australian Council of Hindu Clergy.

On the other hand, Christianity, which has always been the highest reported faith in the country, declined from 63.9 percent of the population in 2006 to 61.1 percent in 2011 Census. With 2.5 percent, Buddhism was the biggest non-Christian religion of the continent followed by Islam at 2.2 per cent and Hinduism 1.3 per cent.

The growing Hindu population in Australia has resulted in rising number of Hindu funerals, says Pandit Prakash Dhodari. “I myself carry out 8 to 10 Hindu funerals per year and the number is rising every year,” said the young priest from Nepal. The biggest challenge to performing a traditional Hindu funeral in Australia is the fact that the next of kin cannot light the small fire in the mouth of the deceased before consigning the body to fire, a tradition Hindus strictly follow in India and Nepal. “You cannot do that here in Australia because of safety issues,” Pandit Dhodari told southasia.com.au.

As open funeral pyres are not legal in Australia, Hindus are cremated the same way as deceased persons from other faiths. The deceased is put in a coffin and placed in the cremation chamber which usually reaches the temperature range of 800°C-1000°C, according to the website of Macquarie Park Cemetery and Crematorium, the site of Lotus Pavilion.

Once the cremation process is complete in approximately two hours and the system has cooled down, the crematory operator carefully collects the remains disposing of any ‘metal objects such as screws, nails, surgical pins or titanium limbs/joints’. The remains are then placed in a ‘special processor’ which produces the ashes which is given to the family in an urn. Hindus usually spread the ashes over flowing water but many leave behind a location of their choice.

According to Pandit Achari, no completion date for Lotus Pavilion has been set.

The proposed pavilion will also accommodate Buddhists and Sikhs, it’s been learnt.

2 thoughts on “Hindus in Australia to have first funeral pavilion

  1. Purohit Mahend Sharma

    - Edit

    Reply

    Years ago I sent a letter to Rockwood cremetery.We were invited in a meeting.
    Mr Hari Prasad a marriage celebrant from Sydney was present as witness.
    Because we Sanatan Dharam people do a lot of cremation we wanted
    some allocation of place like the Christians Buddists etc.
    It is good now days more people are speaking about it
    Thanks a lot
    Mr SM Sharma

Add Comment