It’s interesting that my previous posting on promession should attract some comments by people alerting me to their campaigns to re-legalise funeral pyres and the latest developments in open air cremation. Aside from promession, resomation and natural burial, funeral pyres and open air cremation are also options available to some of us when we die. With regards to disposal innovations and funerary options, it is an extremely interesting time!
Cynthia Beal alerted me to that fact that the first Open Pyre cremation facility has been approved in the US in Crestone, Colorado, whilst here in the UK a landmark case in 2009 granted a Hindu man to be burnt on an open-air pyre. A Buddhist response is clearly evident on the internet but it would be interesting to know what people of other faiths think about these latest developments in al fresco cremation.
Having written and researched extensively about natural burial here in the UK, my immediate thoughts are ones of curiosity as to why people would be drawn to an open-air cremation/pyre. It would be interesting to know the degree of overlap between the reasons why natural burial appeals and the reasons why open air cremation would appeal to the non-Hindu. Historically, there has always been those in Britain who have a strong inclination towards burial or cremation depending on whether they hold a fear towards worms or fire (cf. Davies, D. J. and A. Shaw (1995). Reusing Old Graves: A report on popular British attitudes. Kent, Shaw & Sons) and much has been written on this by philosophers. It would seem that for those who have a dislike of burial, an open-air pyre would foster that closeness to ‘nature’, a sense of a more ‘natural’ ending and a more relaxed atmosphere for the mourners perhaps (all aspects of natural burial’s allure in the UK) than a regular cremation…only time will tell, but Charles Cowling’s blog gives some interesting initial impressions.