Hindus secure scattering garden for ashes

By Gerald V. Paul

MPP Dipika Dameela
MPP Dipika Dameela

Hindus in the GTA’s Caribbean community finally have a place to scatter the ashes of loved ones with the announcement that Bronte Creek Park will welcome the practice.

MPP Dipika Dameela (Mississauga East-Cooksville) and other Liberal caucus members pushed for the installation.

A new blue and white sign posted on a familiar trail allows members of the Hindu community to scatter the ashes of cremated loved ones on parkland and in its water.

Guyana-born Pandit Roopnauth Sharma, founder and spiritual leader of Mississauga’s Ram Mandir and a driving force behind projects related to family issues, poverty, youth violence and low-income housing, said, “I think the sign is a step in the right direction. It’s a work in progress and that’s where it can still improve.”

Sharma, president of the Federation of Hindu Temples of Canada, said he is appreciative that what they have been calling for throughout the years is for a designated area for scattering ashes “to avoid fear and misunderstanding among the general public.”

To calm fear and alleviate misunderstanding, Sharma said, “What you may notice is someone going there dressed in a manner of a priest like I am and maybe standing and offering prayer for a minute or two as they deposit the ashes.”

The search for a designated site began when a growing number of Hindus started placing ashes, leaves and flowers in Canadian waterways. Many have been using the Credit River in Mississauga. However, the Niagara River is a favourite with Sharma because of the strong current.

“A river, a running body of water, is key to the disposition of the ashes. Traditionally, this is the kind of a final ablution, a final cleansing, a form of purification. The ideal was to take those ashes to the holy rivers in India,” Sharma said.

Sharma said his group members became involved in the issue when conservation authorities approached them to find a solution because some people were leaving all sorts of other objects in the rivers, some of it not at all biodegradable.

Canada is home to almost 300,000 Hindus, including more than 200,000 in Ontario.

Gerald V. Paul
Gerald V. Paul