Aum Crematorium: Consultation calls for inclusivity, unity and transparency

Philanthropists Vijay and Bhikhu Patel pledge £1.25 million donation

Mahesh Liloriya Tuesday 02nd August 2022 06:18 EDT

On Saturday 30 July 2022, Anoopam Mission hosted a community briefing and consultation in Denham, Buckinghamshire, attended by Parliamentarians Lord Dolar Popat, Lord Jitesh Gadhia and Bob Blackman MP alongside philanthropist Vijay Patel, Trustee of The Shanta Foundation, whose family announced a generous pledge of £1.25 million towards the Aum Crematorium project. 


As well as senior members of Anoopam Mission led by Pujya Sahebji, Pujya Shantidada and Himat Swami, a wide cross-section of Indian community leaders were also present, including: Dr Nandakumar, Executive Director of Bhartiya Vidya Bhavan; Shaunaka Rishi Das, Director of The Oxford Centre of Hindu Studies; Trupti Patel, President of Hindu Forum of Britain; Vajubhai Pankhania, Trustee of Westcombe Charitable Foundation; Shashi Vekaria, Patron of Shree Kutch Leva Patel Community (UK); Mahesh Patel, Trustee of Brahma Kumaris UK; Bharat Sodha, President of Lohana Community UK; Pramod Thakkar, Jalaram Mandir Leicester; Ranu Mehta-Radia, Sai School of Harrow; Sanjay Jagatia, CEO  of Ekta Unity Charity; Nemu Chandaria OBE, Chairman of Institute of Jainology; Manhar Mehta, Chairman of Vanik Council (UK); and Mayur Mehta, Trustee of Shrimad Rajchandra Mission Dharampur (UK),


During the open forum, architect Kevin Smith provided a briefing about the plans and proposals for the first purpose-built crematorium catering specifically to the needs of Hindus and other dharmic communities.


Lord Dolar Popat said, “This project will benefit the entire community. It will be open for all for antim sanskar, whether Hindu, Jain or Sikh. The question in the starting was can a mandir host a crematorium at the same site? The answer we found in - Shiva and Shamshan… we can’t find a better place than this. But the hard work starts now. Make sure that your views are heard. I urge all of you to support and make this crematorium a legacy.”


Lord Jitesh Gadhia said, “It’s great that so many have contributed over a long period in arriving at this important milestone. This project will outlast all of us, so it needs to be implemented in the right way which is viable and sustainable on a long-term basis. Even if that means taking a little longer to set up the right model, find the right partners and establish the correct structures and processes. The crematorium should be professionally and independently managed by an expert operator. In the planning permission, we made clear that the facilities will be open to all faiths, but with an ethos that specifically caters to Sanatan Dharma requirements and all the dharmic communities. Aum Crematorium project is one of the rare projects which could help bring the Indian and Hindu community closer - and create a sense of unity - so there is a great responsibility to maintain a cohesive spirit through transparency, open communication and active consultation.”  


A question and answer session was held during which community members raised a variety of topics, made suggestions and raised their concerns.  These included:


Yogeshbhai Nakarja mentioned the contribution of the Nakarja family, organisers stopped and asked him to focus only on the AUM crematorium.  Then he questioned the possibility of an open funeral pyre for antim sanskaar and whether family members will be able to immerse the ashes. Organisers replied no to both – but would like to explore alternatives for scattering ashes.


Pravinbhai Amin requested to have satellite meetings to brief more members of the community and asked about the facilities and the financial schemes.  Ranu Mehta Radia asked about people paying towards a funeral plan. Organisers replied – yes to more community meetings but the schemes will be provided by the operator. Anoopam Mission is not going to run the crematorium.


Trupti Patel, President of Hindu Forum of Britain said, community bonds should be introduced rather than individual help. It is a huge task; everybody must be taken together and work together. We should think of organising Dhram Yatra. Since 2007, the Hindu Forum of Britain has consistently raised concerns that the existing facilities were not compliant with our traditions and that the facilities were usually inadequate at Crematoria across the UK and the Chancellor in his last Budget speech committed to start the process of modification and construction to incorporate our needs and wishes.


Subhashbhai Thakrar said, there needs to be full financial transparency. The work and operation of Temple and Crematorium should not mix. Proper structuring is needed. Organisers replied - funds will be kept in separate bank accounts. Not a single penny will be used for other purposes. Financial accounts will also be provided.


Jaikishan Wala said we should use modern technology and mediums to reach the maximum audience. Another question raised was about the design of the crematorium.


A representative of the Jain community asked whether there will be a resident priest for Hindu and Jain ceremonies. Organisers replied - as of now the family will have to bring their own priest, but this may be reviewed.


Dhirubhai Sangani appealed to donate as much as possible in Shravan month. He said, every family should consider donating at least one brick of £101. The project would benefit future generations. He also advised that online donation platforms should be made stronger to guard against fraud.


After inaugurating the dedicated website of AUM Crematorium: Pujya Sahebji said, The AUM Crematorium is the result of combined and dedicated efforts. I bow my head to all who are associated with this noble cause. Although there are different paths, Hindus beliefs are all one and went on to cite Pujya Yogiji Maharaj’s motto that promotes and advocates the wellbeing of everyone, regardless of background.

Box Subheads:


All communities make sure that your views are heard: Lord Popat


The crematorium should be professionally and independently managed by an expert operator: Lord Gadhia


Not we, operators will run the crematorium: Anoopam Mission


Not a single penny will be used for other purposes, we will provide a financial report: Anoopam Mission

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