SHARJAH // Hindus and Sikhs in the emirate can complete the last rites for the dead at Sharjah’s first crematorium, which was finally opened this week.
The crematorium is the fourth in the country and has become operational after a hold-up of more than a year owing to documentation, clearance permissions and delay in the electricity connection provided to the site.
“People have been approaching us for so many years about the need for a crematorium and now we are finally operational,” said Y A Rahim, the general secretary of the Sharjah Indian Association.
“The crematorium is staffed and open daily. We have also requested authorities for an embalming facility and they have agreed so this will also be started near the crematorium in a few months.”
Known as the Hindu Sikh Crematorium, the Dh6 million facility includes two gas-fuelled incinerators and was inaugurated in February last year.
“It’s a question of personal sentiment because, for a family who have spent 25 to 30 years here and there is nobody back home, they will prefer to be cremated here,” said Murali Warrior, who runs a consulting business in Sharjah.
“It’s definitely a good move because a death in the family brings trauma. Now people can choose to be cremated here.”
The facility can also be used by those who live outside the emirate. Residents said this would also enable the observance of last rites for those who live in other Northern Emirates, since it is a time-consuming process to get permission to cremate or bury in an emirate different from the one in which the deceased’s visa was issued.
“We handle many cases where families don’t want to send the body back to India but face a lot of paperwork because the body has to be cremated in another emirate,” said Jitendar Singh, who works with a local Sikh charity, Sarbat da Bhala (Welfare of Mankind).
He recently handled a case where the family of a young boy wanted to cremate their son in the UAE but paperwork took several days to complete.
“Now cremation can be done quickly in Sharjah so, overall, this works for everyone’s benefit. Now for a family from Sharjah or the Northern Emirates there will be less tension because there will be less documentation required. Many families have lived their whole life here so naturally they want to be cremated here.”
The cost of cremation, at about Dh3,500, is less than half the expense of shipping a body home, which costs more than Dh9,000.
“I’m glad this has finally opened because it’s the right thing for the community since, for some, it is much too expensive to take a body back to India,” said Navin Raipancholia, an Indian businessman.
“And why will people want to be cremated anywhere else when they have lived here all their lives?”
The 10 acres of land on which the crematorium was built was gifted by Sheikh Sultan bin Mohammed Al Qasimi, the Ruler of Sharjah. The land was given to the community five years ago and the first phase of construction started two years ago. The Indian government contributed Dh500,000 and other funds were raised by Indian businessmen in the UAE.
The crematorium is in Al Juwaiza, opposite the Sharjah Cement Factory.
The UAE’s oldest crematorium opened in Dubai more than 66 years ago. This was followed by one in Abu Dhabi about a decade ago and a multi-faith centre in Al Ain three years ago.
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(via The National)