Bristol

River Avon possible site for Bristol Hindu ashes

A Hindu prays on the banks of Sangam, the confluence of river Ganges
Image caption Parag Bhatt said ashes dissolve in the water

Bristol's Hindu community may be able to scatter the ashes of loved ones in the River Avon in future rather than travelling to India's River Ganges.

The city's new Lord Mayor Peter Main said providing a consecrated site was one of his first priorities.

Parag Bhatt, from Bristol Hindu Temple, said it was difficult for a big family or elderly relatives to travel to India.

The Environment Agency and Bristol City Council are trying to identify a site.

Mr Main said: "It's their tradition to scatter ashes on water and quite often now they're flown back to India to do that.

"They're Bristolian, most are born and bred in Bristol, why shouldn't they have somewhere in Bristol to scatter their ashes?"

'Large costs'

Mr Bhatt said there were currently about 10,000 Hindus in Bristol and the surrounding area.

But he added: "It's not just the Bristol Hindu community that's going to benefit, it will be other communities like the Sikh and Buddhist as well.

"The only reason we take them to the Ganges is because they don't have a place in Bristol or nearby where they can disperse the ashes.

"If there are elderly people in the family it can be difficult and if it's a large family you're going to incur large costs as well for flights.

"It's just a matter of making it easier for the family who has just lost a loved one."

He explained that after a cremation Hindus wait for an auspicious day to go to a riverbank and scatter the ashes.

'Body purified'

"When the ashes are dispersed within the water the ashes actually dissolve and then they will meet one of the rivers Hindus refer to as holy.

"Somewhere in the world they all meet together so the meaning behind it is the body would be purified and after that the individual soul will go to heaven and to God."

A spokesman for the Environment Agency said it was helping to identify one or more suitable sites.

"We have no objection to it, subject to meeting some simple conditions," he said.

The agency's website states that if a site is in regular use it needs to assess if there is enough water to disperse the ashes, if anyone is using the river just downstream and and that other river users are not going to be affected.

Scattering ashes in British rivers is not new. The River Soar in Leicestershire and the River Thames in London are already used.

More on this story

Related Internet links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites