The UK government is carrying out a review of crematoria provision and facilities in England to establish whether they are suitable to meet the demand and cultural requirements of all communities. And that means ours.
According to a website established by the Department for Communities and Local Government, the catchily titled Review of crematoria provision and facilities: discussion paper, the review has been started mainly sue to concerns regarding capacity of the UJK’s crematoria, in particular to accommodate Hindu and Sikh cremations at which traditionally larger numbers of mourners wish to attend. Most crematoria chapels hold around 100 mourners, whereas Hindu and Sikh funerals can involve 300 or more friends and family.
In 2014, over 390,000 cremations took place at 232 crematoria across England, representing 77.35% of all deaths in that year.
With an ageing population demographic, not to mention an urban concentration of faiths where cremation is the normal type of funeral, planning for the future is an important consideration. But the survey seeks to go further as well. “In addition,” it says “there have been concerns that crematoria do not always pay sufficient regard to the cultural sensitivities of different faiths.”
According to the document, these concerns range from a preponderance of Christian symbology to a lack of private rooms to help prepare the body beforehand, a lack of space for Hindu, Sikh and Jain mourners to actually watch the committal of the coffin, a lack of washing facilities for rituals afterwards, and a lack of water in which to scatter ashes.
This is the Pagan community’s chance to have its say in the future of these important shared public spaces. The Pagan Federation is planning on making an official response, in which case you can email us your experiences of crematoria with regard to the questions included in the survey and we’ll pass them on, or you can complete the SurveyMonkey form online as an individual.
The consultation is open until 26 May.