Upset Hindus seek right to cremation in Malta as “burial hinders soul’s journey”

Worldwide Hindus are upset over Malta not having mechanism for the cremation of deceased Hindus, forcing the community to bury their loved ones in contradiction of their long-held beliefs.

Distinguished Hindu statesman Rajan Zed, in a statement in Nevada (USA) today, said that Malta should show some maturity and be more responsive to the hurt feelings of its hard-working, harmonious and peaceful Hindu community; which had been in the country since 1800s and had made lot of contributions to the nation and society, and continued to do so.

Zed, who is President of Universal Society of Hinduism, noted that cremation had been a pre-BCE tradition prescribed in ancient Hindu texts. Cremation signified spiritual release, helped severe ties to earthly life and gave momentum to the soul for its continuing spiritual journey. World’s oldest extant scripture, Rig-Veda, pointed out: Agni, set him free again to go to the fathers.

It was simply heartbreaking for the community to perform something in clear violation of their faith. If Malta was unable to provide proper crematoriums, Hindus should be allowed to cremate their deceased on traditional open pyres for which Malta should build a cremation ground near a body of water; Rajan Zed indicated.

Zed further said that Hindus were planning to approach various bodies/officials like European Union, Council of Europe, European Parliament; European Commissioner for Human Rights; European and Malta Ombudsman; Malta President, Prime Minister and other government offices; National Commission for the Promotion of Equality; Roman Catholic Archbishop of Malta; etc.; on this issue; as being able to follow one’s faith traditions was a fundamental human right.

Funeral rites/ceremonies were one of the main samskaras (sacraments) of Hindu life. In majority cases, Hindus were cremated, except infants and ascetics. After some ancient rituals at the cremation, remains (bones/ashes) were ceremoniously immersed into holy river Ganga or other bodies of water, helping in the liberation of the deceased. In Hinduism, death did not mark the end of existence; Rajan Zed pointed out.

Moreover, tenets of Hinduism and other world religions should be taught in all Malta State schools at par with religious teaching of the Roman Catholic Apostolic Faith. Opening-up the Malta children to major world religions and non-believers’ viewpoint would make them well-nurtured, well-balanced, and enlightened citizens of tomorrow; Zed stated.

Rajan Zed was of the view that Malta should also provide some land and help in raising a Hindu temple, as Maltese Hindus did not have proper traditional worship space.

Malta should follow its own constitution, which stated: “All persons in Malta shall have full freedom of conscience and enjoy the free exercise of their respective mode of religious worship”. Moreover, Malta, a member country of European Union, reportedly was a signatory to the Protocol 1 to the European Convention on Human Rights; Zed noted.

Rajan Zed further said that 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 equality treatment for all. Equality was the fundamental tenet of Judeo-Christian faith, of which Catholicism was a significant part.