x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Sharjah crematorium for Hindus and Sikhs to open after Ramadan

Scheduled to open in February this year, the unit’s opening was delayed because of a problem with the electricity supply.

The crematorium, the fourth of its kind in the country, is located in Al Juwaiza. It was built on 10 acres of land gifted to the community four years ago by Dr Sheikh Sultan bin Mohammed Al Qasimi, Ruler of Sharjah. Pawan Singh / The National
The crematorium, the fourth of its kind in the country, is located in Al Juwaiza. It was built on 10 acres of land gifted to the community four years ago by Dr Sheikh Sultan bin Mohammed Al Qasimi, Ruler of Sharjah. Pawan Singh / The National

DUBAI // Sharjah’s first crematorium for Hindus and Sikhs will finally open after Ramadan.

Scheduled to open in February this year, the unit’s opening was delayed because of a problem with the electricity supply.

“It will officially open after Ramadan after about 40 days. The delay has been because there is no electricity connection in the area,” said Y?A Rahim, president of the Sharjah Indian Association.

“We have a generator but we need electricity for the waiting area, halls and office.”

The crematorium, the fourth of its kind in the country, is located in Al Juwaiza opposite the Sharjah Cement Factory. It was built on 10 acres of land gifted to the community four years ago by Dr Sheikh Sultan bin Mohammed Al Qasimi, Ruler of Sharjah.

Building only began last year due to a lack of financial resources and permission. The Indian government contributed Dh500,000 and other funds were raised by Indian businessmen in the UAE. The facility is set to expand later.

Indian residents in Sharjah and the Northern Emirates said they would be relieved to finally use the Hindu Sikh Crematorium to observe the last rites for their dead.

“This will be a big comfort to the community,” said Mr Rahim.

Mansoor Surty, a manager at a Sharjah hospital, said: “Sending the body back to India is much more expensive and there is more paperwork. Most prefer to cremate the body in the UAE since their family has been living here for 30 to 40 years.”

The cost of cremation is about Dh3,500, compared with tens of thousands needed to repatriate a body. But it is a difficult and time-consuming process to cremate a body at one of the existing crematoriums if the deceased’s residence visa was issued elsewhere.

Jitendar Singh, who runs a local Sikh charity, Welfare of Mankind,  or Sarbat da Bhala, has handled several cases where families from Sharjah encountered delays.

“Families go through a lot of tension,” Mr Singh said.

“There have been many cases when families have experienced difficulty because they need many documents to cremate in another emirate. This takes longer and there is much more expense to leave the body in the hospital while all the formalities are being completed, Mr Singh said.

“Once the crematorium opens in Sharjah, the last rites can be done immediately,” he added.

The oldest crematorium in the country was opened in Dubai more than 65 years ago, followed by a second in Abu Dhabi about a decade ago, and a multifaith centre in Al Ain two years ago.

rtalwar@thenational.ae