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Indian Cremation Society Launched in Chicago

India Post, News Report, Posted: Jul 17, 2009

CHICAGO: An organization, Indian Cremation of Chicago land (ICC) to help Indian-American families deal with the death of a loved one and how to prepare for it was officially launched on June 28 at the Indo-American Center in Chicago.

The event was attended by prominent community members, funeral home directors, and over 200 guests. The program started with non-denomination prayers, followed by the introduction of the organization by Satish Chander, Master of ceremony. This was followed by an address from a founding member and Chairman, Dr. Chandrakant Modi, MD.

Dr Modi said ICC is a no profit body and is registered with the State of Illinois. It does not charge fee or commission and is run by volunteer group. The ICC was set up to help guide the Indian-American community to deal with issues related to death. There are many cases of some unscrupulous agents trying to exploit the situation of unprepared, grieving and shocked family members due to the death of a loved one, and an attempt now is made to address this issue, he added.

Govindbhai Limbachia, a volunteer and representative of Indo American Center, said that the goal of ICC is to empower and assist families in making final arrangements for a dignified funeral and cremation at a reasonable cost. The ICC founders have done lots of study and research regarding bioethics of the Hindu, Jain and Sikh religions and various aspects of their death rites and religious rituals. Dr. Modi mentioned that he with others visited many funeral homes in greater Chicago land and each facility was evaluated to see if they met the bioethics codes for Hindus, Jains and Sikhs. From the study of various choices available for funeral/cremation, the ICC has prepared an Indian Cremation Package.

The package includes a basic fiber wood casket rather than expensive wood casket and no embalming of the body as it is an unnecessary expense (due to cremation taking place in a few days after the death). Dr. Modi and his associates negotiated a reasonable cost for this package from 13 participating funeral home/crematoriums located from Chicago to Monee (about 70 miles west of Chicago), and from Evergreen Park, in the south, to Crystal Lake in the north.

It is interesting to note that in the tradition of several religions in India a person's last journey starts from his/her home to the cremation site. Many ICC participating facilities will provide an option of performing home Pooja, or last religious ceremony, at a person's residence rather than at a chapel or funeral home if desired by the family of the deceased.

The procedure involves the following: the body is given a ceremonial ritual bath and clothed in new, traditional clothes and then transported to the person's residence at a prearranged, designated time for a last death rite or Pooja ceremony. After completion of this ceremony, the body will be directly transported back to the chosen crematorium for cremation.

Services related to selection priests to perform religious ceremonies, florists, garland requirements, portrait studios etc. are included on the ICC web site and a companion book. About 10,000 complimentary copies of the book are being printed this week and will be widely distributed to reach as many Indian families residing in metropolitan Chicago area as possible.

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