Malta’s lack of a crematorium is denying Hindus right to practice their faith

Hindus urge the Maltese government to subsidise cremations abroad in the absence of a crematorium.

The lack of a crematorium in Malta is forcing Hindus to bury their loved ones in contradiction to their beliefs, a senior religious leader has said.

Rajan Zed, president of the Universal Society of Hinduism, has urged the Maltese government to subsidise cremations abroad until a crematorium is built in Malta.

“Malta, not having a mechanism for the cremation of deceased Hindus, was forcing the community to bury their loved ones in contradiction of their long-held beliefs that burial hindered the soul’s journey,” Zed said in a statement released in his home state of Nevada, USA.

The Maltese parliament approved legislation making it possible for crematoria to be set up in 2019 and subsequently, the Planning Authority drew up a policy detailing where they could be erected. The policy, which was put out for public consultation, has not yet been approved.

There is no crematorium in Malta although some funeral organisers do offer a service to have the body cremated overseas at considerable cost.

But Zed also put forward an unorthodox alternative proposal for the government to allow Hindus to cremate their deceased on traditional open pyres. “For this purpose, the Malta government should allot a cremation ground near a body of water where Hindus could cremate their deceased on open pyres,” he said.

Zed urged Malta to be more responsive to the “hurt feelings of its hard-working, harmonious and peaceful Hindu community” by making it possible for them to express their faith.

“Being able to follow one’s faith traditions is a fundamental human right,” Zed said, adding this was also recognised by the Maltese Constitution.
He called on the health and environment ministers in Malta to speed up the process that will make it possible to have a crematorium on the island.

Zed also urged Malta’s Roman Catholic Archbishop Charles J. Scicluna and Cardinal Mario Grech, to support the Hindu community on this issue. “As a dominating majority in Malta, Catholics also had a moral responsibility to take care of minority brothers/sisters from different faith backgrounds, and should thus also seek equal treatment for all.”

Zed said the Hindu community in Malta could approach Council of Europe Human Rights Commissioner Dunja Mijatović on the issue if the country “continued to desert its minorities”.

Only recently, former Labour prime minister Alfred Sant raised spoke about the lack of a crematorium in Malta. He said past attempts always floundered because there were question marks on the economic feasibility of a crematorium, questioning whether this was still the case today.

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