Some British Hindus send the bodies of their relatives to India
A Hindu man has told the High Court he wants to die "with dignity" and not be "bundled in a box", in a case to retain open-air cremations.
Davender Ghai, 70, a devout Hindu, wants to overturn a Newcastle Council decision preventing funeral pyres being held in line with religious practice.
Mr Ghai insists that the process is essential to free the soul after death.
His human rights application is set to last three days. The council says such cremations are "impractical".
Hindus in India have been carrying out open cremations for more than 4,000 years, but their requirements have been deemed impractical in UK council crematoria.
Davender Ghai says open-air cremation is a vital part of Hindu doctrine
Ramby de Mello, appearing for Mr Ghai, told Justice Cranston: "He wants to make it clear he does not expect such a funeral to be unregulated.
"What he wants in terms of his funeral is nothing short of an open-air pyre where his body can be burnt in a sacrament of fire."
The court heard that Mr Ghai's wish was that his 40-year-old eldest son Sanjay, who lives in Canada, should light the funeral pyre while the rest of his family watches as his soul is released from his body into the afterlife.
In 2006 Newcastle City Council refused Mr Ghai permission to establish a site for cremations in the open.
The council said the burning of human remains anywhere outside a crematorium was prohibited under the 1902 Cremation Act - a ruling the Ministry of Justice agreed was correct.
Mr Ghai, a Hindu campaigner and founder of the Anglo-Asian Friendship Society charity, is seeking a judicial review of the decision.
In his latest witness statement, Mr Ghai said: "Being bundled into a box and incinerated in a furnace is not my idea of dignity, much less the performance of an ancient sacrament."
I will not deny my claim is provocative, least of all in a nation as notoriously squeamish towards death as our own
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