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Hindus in Canada Need a Designated River for Burial Ritual

Canadian Hindus are looking out for a designated water body for burial ritual. According to 2001 census, Canada is home to more than 300,000 practicing Hindus and majority of them are third and second generation Hindu Canadians. Earlier, they used to carry the ashes to India but slowly many are opting to disperse them in the rivers in Canada. But they don’t have a designated river and therefore they are doing the ritual in an unceremonious way.

Jeanne Gagnon writes in National Post

"Currently, people are depositing the ashes in bodies of water, in Lake Ontario and other places, but they are doing it in a very unceremonious manner -- with fears in their minds that they may be doing something wrong," said Roopnauth Sharma, the president of the United Hindu Federation and the spiritual leader of the Shri Ram temple in Mississauga.

The search for a designated site began when a growing number of Hindus started placing ashes, leaves and flowers in Canadian waterways. Mr. Sharma said his group members became involved in the issue when conservation authorities approached them to find a solution because some people were leaving all sorts of other objects in the rivers, some of it not at all biodegradable.

Mark Rabbior, a spokesman with the Ontario Ministry of the Environment, said environmental concerns are minimal because the practice typically involves only small quantities of ashes, flowers or leaves.

Mr. Sharma is continuing to work with Gerry Phillips, Ontario's Minister of Government Services, to identify appropriate waterways with strong currents and easy access for members of the Hindu community.