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The City of Lucerne has agreed to let Hindu residents perform burial rites on one bank of the Reuss River.
An unofficial agreement had previously allowed Hindus to spread ashes into the water but now an environmental study has confirmed as many as 20 ceremonies can be performed a year without environmental harm.
“This is not yet standard. This appears to be the first time an official place has been named,” Andreas Tunger says.
He’s a religions researcher at the University of Lucerne.
“In other cantons there are already cases where contact between the Hindu communities and cantonal authorities, or local ones, have taken place, but more on an informal basis.”
Each ceremony lasts about 20 minutes, involving just close family.
“The priest is only [in] the background,” Tunger says. “The eldest son needs to go into the water—the water just comes up to his knees. And then he will sink the urn into the water, the water will wash out the quantity of ashes, and will take it away down the river.”
Tunger said the recognition of Hindu burial rites shows the community is accepting other cultural traditions, but is also required in the constitution.