Windermere should create special ash scattering platform for Hindu funerals says religious
Mark Eccles, head of park management for the Lake District National Park, said “there’s usually nothing to stop you from having a ceremony” in national parks but anyone scattering ashes should ask the permission of the landowner.He added it was “fine to use water with some caveats”, according to the BBC.”For inland rivers or lakes, contact the local Environment Agency to check there is no nearby water supply, and try to avoid areas where people might be swimming, fishing or boating while you’re doing the ceremony.”You are allowed to scatter ashes at sea, but if it is within five miles of shore it is advisable to let the local Environment Agency know.Cremation and the place ashes are scattered are considered particularly important in Hinduism, with followers believing the ceremony is tied to the process of reincarnation. At traditional holy sites such as the River Ganges, the ashes of around 100,000 bodies are thrown in every year. Less than a million Hindus currently live in the UK and the number of ceremonies at Windermere is likely to remain small, with one estimate placing the figure at around 10 per month. Sunrise at WindermereCredit: joe daniel price But for followers of Swaminarayan Hinduism in particular, the site is becoming increasingly sacred.”For us, the lake is as holy as any river in India and we believe that it would have the same impact for my father’s final journey as [if] we [were] travelling to India and performing the rites there,” said Khushal Bhojani, who scattered his father’s ashes in Windermere last month, according to the Times of India. “Due to Swamibapa’s connection with this lake, a number of devotees started visiting it and also immersing their dear ones’ last remembrance. Now it is not just the followers of Swaminarayan sect but also [the] Hindu population at large that is following the tradition,” said the revered Hindu spritual leader, Acharya Purushottompriyadas Swami. The British Mountaineering Council has also raised concerns about the number of ashes scattering ceremonies taking place in the Lake District, whether religious or not. Rob Dyer, access and conservation officer for the BMC, said it was a widespread issue that was affecting local eco systems in some areas. “It is actually increasing the nutrient content of soil on some tops in the Lakes – and as a result common grasses are able to out-compete rare high mountain species, which rely on low nutrient soils that other species can’t survive in.” Windermere should create a special area for scattering ashes, a leading Hindu figure has said. The Lake District has become a surprise tourist attraction for followers of Swaminarayan sect, a rapidly growing group within Hinduism, after one of its key gurus, Jeevanpran Shree Muktajeevan Swamibapa, passed away following a boat ride on the lake in August 1979. Religious tradition dictates that the ashes of Hindus who die overseas should be scattered at holy sites such as Varanasi, Prayag and Haridwar on the banks of the River Ganges in India.But now some Swaminarayan Hindus in the north of England consider Windermere as sacred as the famous Indian sites.Rajan Zed, president of the Universal Society of Hinduism, called for a special gazebo building and altar style platform to be built on the banks of the lake. He urged the Environment Secretary Michael Gove and the Lake District National Park’s leaders to build a link road “so that grieving families and friends could gather and perform the last rituals properly, respectfully and peacefully”.Mr Zed told a conference in the US state of Nevada the UK government should “earnestly delve into developing this dedicated area for scattering cremated remains in view of substantial numbers of Hindu populace in England”.”Since Windermere Lake [is] becoming popular with Hindus for scattering the cremated remains of their loved ones; authorities should seriously look into creating a dedicated area along the Lake,” he said, offering “religious expertise” from Hindu scholars to design the structure. Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily Front Page newsletter and new audio briefings.