File Picture:Ian Landsberg/African News Agency (ANA).
File Picture:Ian Landsberg/African News Agency (ANA).

Some Hindu priests exploiting families by increasing price for funerals

By Charlene Somduth Time of article published Jan 22, 2021

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Durban - Some Hindu priests have been accused of increasing their prices for funerals.

The allegation was made by Pradeep Ramlall, from the Hindu Dharma Association of South Africa, who claimed they had received numerous complaints from grieving families.

"Priests are charging between R1 200 and R2 000 to conduct a funeral. This is not right. As per our scriptures, this is our seva (service) to the community. If a family wants to give a priest a donation, then that is acceptable but priests should not be charging people."

Ramlall, who also manages the Clare Estate Hindu Crematorium, said he watched a priest count his money after a funeral.

"I was in my vehicle. The priest had conducted a Covid-19 funeral. While he was in the parking lot, he removed R100 notes from his pocket and counted it before sanitising each note and putting the money back into his pocket."

He said priests who cashed-in on opportunities were exploiting people.

"Due to the rising Covid-19 deaths, families need to carry out their own funeral rituals. We have pre-recorded videos that they can use. If they insist on having a priest, then the priest can conduct the funeral through Zoom or through a WhatsApp video call. We need to embrace technology."

He added that the Arya Samaj of South Africa was offering the services of priests for free.

Pundit Satish Maharaj said being a priest was a calling.

"Those priests who are taking advantage of families at this time must be reprimanded. I have conducted funerals through zoom to ease the travelling costs."

Ashwin Trikamjee, the president of the South African Hindu Maha Sabha, said they had a list of accredited priests on the Sabha's Facebook page for families to contact.

"These priests will assist with no charge."

Trikamjee said the challenge some priests were having during the pandemic was that they had to attend more funerals than usual.

"These funerals are being conducted at odd hours. Priests are using their own transport and equipment. Some are expecting to be reimbursed for these costs. But the families are not obliged to pay these costs."

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