Indian Activists Seek 'Green' Funeral Pyres

Hindu cremation rites consume 50 million trees a year
By Sam Gale Rosen,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 3, 2007 12:49 PM CDT
Indian Activists Seek 'Green' Funeral Pyres
INDIA. Jodhpur. 1996 (PAR118748)   (Magnum Photos)

(Newser) – Indian environmental activists are taking aim at the traditional Hindu funeral pyre, which can burn over 800 pounds of wood while mourners watch the rite that is believed to free soul from body. Now a nonprofit group is peddling a "green cremation system," which uses a raised metal grate to improve air flow and cut the amount of wood needed.

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"This is not a new technological gizmo. It's a simplicity, like improving the efficiency of a wood stove," the group's director tells the Los Angeles Times. Across India, 50 million trees are consumed in these rites each year, and gas and electric won't substitute because they have to be performed in open-air. Some Hindu scholars have lent cautious approval to the new system: "There are changing situations that come to us on Earth and we have to work out compromises for that," says one. (Read more cremation stories.)

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