Centralised Bereavement Services Project
The Hindu Cremation Council known as Shanti Dham has prepared this document for the
purpose of briefing the Leicester City Council, MP’s, councillor’s temples gurudwaras
and community centres on the Shanti Dham Centralised Bereavement Services Project
for Hindus Sikhs and Jains in Leicester and Leicestershire.
The Hindu Cremation Council now known as Shanti Dham was set up in early 2000 to
co-ordinate all the Hindu Sikh and Jain places of worship and community centres of
Leicestershire area in order to deal with religious preferences and requirements of the
Hindu community. With the co-operation of all parties which by necessity have to be
involved in the process, a successful program to meet the needs Hindu Sikh and Jain
communities was formulated.
In 2004 Shanti Dham on the advice of the Leicester City council held an awareness and
consultation programme in the form of a Katha (9 days recital of Bhagwath Geeta By
renowned Shree Rameshbhai Oza at Rushey Mead School). A total of 40000 people
attended the event and during the event were informed of the project Shanti Dham.
Points to note are that the awareness was held because there was an indication from the
then Burials and Cremation officer that potential land at Redhill Roundabout had been
identified to build a facility for Cremations which would meet the religious requirements
of the Hindu Sikh and Jain communities in Leicestershire. This particular land then was
allocated to another project even after the then Lord Mayor Cllr Ramnik Kavia and the
Deputy leader of the council had publicly announced that land at the Redhill roundabout
had been identified and would be allocated to the Shanti Dham Project.
However after approaching the council again two more sites were identified by the
council being at Blaby and Beaumont Leys, but both these sites did not materialise. So
now after considering and waiting for the Leicester City council the committee has
decided to down scale the project and start up with out a cremator and water feature (man
Objectives and the Project
The Association’s objects (the “objects”) are: -
1. Advancement of the Hindu faith by meeting the religious needs of the Hindu
community in Leicestershire in relation to the procedures and practices relating to the
cremation of the deceased.
2. To advance the education of general public in relation to Hindu cremation procedures
of the deceased.
3. To relieve poverty and advance the education of Hindus in Leicestershire through the
provision of welfare advice in relation to cremations.
4. To relieve poverty and advance the education of Hindus in Leicestershire through the
provision of welfare advice in relation to cremations.
5. To give assistance and such other charitable purpose or purposes as the Governing
Body shall from time to time determine.
6. SHANTI DHAM shall not in any way align itself to any political party nor support any
political movement whatsoever.
Hindu Cremation and Bereavement Services Project
The following is a brief overview of what the above project will contain in terms of
facilities and services provision. It has to be noted that there is no blueprint for what
Shanti Dham intends to establish therefore only key components have been included
based on Shanti Dham’s knowledge of the requirements of the Hindu Sikh and Jain
communities of Leicester and also based on the demands and enquiries it has received
over time from these community organisations.
An IT ready administrative wing will be allocated for staff which will be employed by
Shanti Dham in order to meet the needs of the organisation and to ensure the smooth
running of all operational procedures and activities.
Dedicated office space including a general reception area will also be allocated in order
to provide a fast track Death registration Service prior to releasing the deceased for
preparation and cremation.
The wing will also contain consulting rooms for use by the Bereavement Counsellors or
other administrative staff.
A mortuary that will have a capacity to store up to ten bodies. By transferring the care of
the deceased to Shanti Dham we believe that the level of anxiety normally experienced
by the deceased family would be greatly reduced. Similarly in the case of lengthy storage
time due to an expected post mortem or police enquiry the situation would be again
calmer making the work progressively easier for the various agencies involved.
A separate section within the Mortuary will be allocated for use by the coroner. This
section will be fully secured and access limited to authorised personnel only. Bodies will
be held until a post-mortem can be performed and released only after instruction is
received by the coroner.
As far as the mortuary staffs is concerned, Shanti Dham will employ fully trained
mortuary staff and follow current health and safety guidelines in their employment. 24
hour CCTV security of the site would also be implemented.
Fast Track Post Mortem Facility
Shanti Dham intends to work with the necessary authorities in order to establish a fully
equipped post mortem examination theatre within the proposed facility. It is hoped that
both female and male pathologists will be identified and contracted to perform the
examinations on a need basis both during normal working hours and more importantly
‘out of hours’. Dialog with the Leicester City Coroner’s office will begin in order to
discuss ways of establishing an out of hour’s coroner’s service. Other cities that have
implemented the out of hours coroner’s service, particularly Bolton have been contacted
in order to ascertain the level of commitment and resources required by the parties
concerned to establish this kind of service. A report on the services available in Bolton
will be available soon.
The facility will also host a training centre fully equipped with large screen projector and
audio system. Shanti Dham will be involved in providing of training of staff in the
voluntary and service sectors on bereavement issues surrounding the Hindu Sikh and Jain
communities. Shanti Dham feels that training and education is an important part of its
aims and objectives and having the facility to perform this task within the project
demonstrates this commitment.
With the recent changes in the demographics of Leicester and Leicestershire the Hindu,
Sikh, and Jain communities have seen the community growing at a tremendous rate. With
this increase the need for faith specific and faith sensitive services has also grown. Shanti
Dham has come to realise that with these large numbers of immigrant families and
students now residents in Leicester and Leicestershire, many are without the normal
support structures behind them. During time of loss some are then unfortunately left to
cope without the necessary assistance. There have been several documented examples of
this during recent months. Those in this predicament are often left without knowing what
to do or not knowing who to turn to in order to get help.
Shanti Dham has identified this need and will create an outreach bereavement counselling
service as part of the project. Male or female counsellors will be provided to those
families that suffer bereavement. An initial visit will be made in order to make contact,
asses and enquire if the family require any assistance. Apart from providing emotional
support the counsellors will also help with any issues surrounding probate.
Prayer and Last Rites Hall
With most housing in the county consisting of 2 down and 2 up rooms the gathering of
large numbers of mourners is extremely difficult and at times dangerous. Attendance at a
funeral in the Hindu Sikh and Jain community is regarded as a good and customary deed.
To ease this difficulty surrounding large funeral attendances Shanti Dham intends to
incorporate a Prayer Hall within the facility. The deceased once prepared for cremation
will be kept in the Hall for mourners until cremation time. This Shanti Dham feels will
ease some of the difficulties faced by the family of the deceased and also by the general
neighbourhood around the home of the deceased.
Bathing and Shrouding Facility
Shanti Dham intends to provide this facility bearing in mind the cultural needs of the
communities. The staff will again be trained and educated in various health and safety as
well as religious and cultural issues.
Resource and Research Centre
Alongside the training centre Shanti Dham also intent to provide a resource and research
centre. This will be fully equipped with internet ready Pc’s and a library with a catalogue
of books and literature on death, cremations, and bereavements. This centre will be open
to schools for educational purposes and to those that attend training at the facility
Written up by Vinod Popat
Suleman Nagdi MBE