Maha Sabha asks funeral home directors for cost of using crematoriums

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Maha Sabha asks funeral home directors for cost of using crematoriums

With the ban on public cremations still in effect, the Sanatan Dharma Maha Sabha (SDMS) has now taken it upon themselves to write to the Association of Funeral Professionals of Trinidad and Tobago asking for the cost of using crematoriums for the funerals of COVID-19 victims.

The SDMS, in a letter sent yesterday, said it has been told the cost to use indoor crematoriums has risen dramatically since the start of the pandemic when open pyre funerals for COVID-19 victims were banned.

“It has come to our attention that the cost of an indoor cremation can range from about ten to fifteen thousand dollars. Recently, however, some estimates have put this cost at between $27,000 to $50,000 per corpse,” the SDMS said.

The SDMS has taken the Ministry of Health to court seeking judicial review on the ban. That matter will be heard in March before Justice Nadia Kangaloo.

The organisation said it wants to assist needy families who are struggling to bear the costs of cremating their relatives as is customary in the Hindu community.

“Until such a time when open pyre/ air cremations are once again allowed, the Maha Sabha feels it is necessary to identify areas in which assistance or guidance can be rendered to those of its members who are most affected by this policy, especially those who may be opting for a burial instead of a cremation.”

The SDMS also wants to make representation to “certain entities” to assist those needy or vulnerable families with funeral costs.

The Maha Sabha is seeking the costs of incinerating one corpse, the daily cost of keeping one corpse, the average length of time a corpse must be kept before an available date for cremation is set, the calculation of the cost of incinerating a body based on weight and the average waiting times before families are given the ashes of their loved ones.

“This is important as the Hindu rituals that are done with the ashes usually take place the day after the cremation,” the SDMS said.

The Maha Sabha acknowledged that the Association was under no obligation to provide those costs but asked for “humanitarian assistance.”

“Unfortunately, we can safely guess that, given the ongoing ravages of this pandemic, the death rate is likely to escalate alongside the other difficulties that arise from it.”