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The Ganges twinned with the River Derwent...

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Ashes Scattered In UK's Ganges. Date: 07/23/2007

News Source: http://news.sky.com

The banks of the Ganges

Gateshead Council has designated part of the River Derwent for Sikhs and Hindus to carry out the ceremony, believing that by immersing ashes into flowing water they will be sent to heaven.

A leading Sikh, Bahal Singh Dindsa, has praised the council for being "forward-thinking".

But many authorities prohibit the scattering of human remains in UK rivers, for fear of contamination.

Believers have been forced to scatter the ashes secretly or take them out to sea - where scattering is allowed.

Some make the long pilgrimage to the Indian subcontinent to take part in ceremonies at the shores of the Ganges, in the hope of sending their relatives to salvation.


Sam Reed of Gateshead Council said people had been allowed to scatter the ashes in the Derwent - which flows to the River Tyne - for at least five years.

"It does happen and we do allow it," she said. "Our policy emerged as we launched council plans for the next 30 years.

"It goes without saying that it's a good thing for the diverse community."

Coconuts, photographs, flowers, plastic statues and even money are sometimes thrown into water along with the ashes - but this is against a ruling from the Environment Agency.

"Personal items and wreaths might contain plastic and metal parts, which can cause litter and harm wildlife. They must not be put into the water or left on the riverbank where they could be washed into the water," the Environment Agency said.

The Sikh practice of to burning the bodies of the dead on funeral pyres before scattering the ashes is also prohibited under UK law.

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