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Lucerne approves Hindu death rites in river

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Lucerne approves Hindu death rites in river
Edwin Lee (File)
13:48 CEST+02:00

Hindus have welcomed a decision by the city of Lucerne that officially allows them to perform death rites in the Reuss River.

Such rites were previously performed informally but the city in central Switzerland, whose residents are predominantly Catholic, decided to give its full backing after an environmental study was conducted.

The study showed that as many as 20 ceremonies, involving the dispersion of ashes from an urn into the water, can be held annually without any harm to the environment.

Rajan Zed, president of the Universal Society of Hinduism, commended the city of Lucerne for its respect for the religious traditions of Hindus who live in the region.

In a statement issued from the state of Nevada in the US, Zed called the city’s move a “step in the right direction”.

He urged other cities around the world to allow Hindus to scatter the ashes of loved ones into rivers.

Zed said the city of Bristol in the UK is also reportedly considering the River Avon as an approved site for the ritual.

Hindus regard their religion as the oldest in the world with about one billion adherents.

The scattering of ashes into a body of water shortly after cremation is one of its customs.

Andreas Tunger, who studies religion at the University of Lucerne, believes the city’s decision is a first for Switzerland.

“This appears to be the first time an official place has been named,” Tunger told World Radio Switzerland.

“In other cantons there are already cases where contact between the Hindu communities and cantonal authorities, or local ones, have taken place, but more on an informal basis.”

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