Representatives of different faiths have taken part in a private blessing as Thurrock Council takes steps to provide a dedicated section within West Thurrock Cemetery for the Nepalese Gurkha community.
On Friday 22 July, Cllr James Halden, Mayor of Thurrock, Cllr Qaisar Abbas, Cabinet Member for Communities and Equalities, and Cllr Andrew Jefferies, Cabinet Member for Environment, were joined by Man Bahadur Rai, president of the Thurrock Nepalese (Gurkha) (TNG) Community, and 40 of the TNG Community, including executive members and Gurkha veterans.
Pastor Yam Limbu, priest Lok Bahadur Limbu, Rachhpal Singh, priest of Grays Gurdwara, Jyoti Ji, religious and spiritual leader, and Helal Ali, secretary at Grays Mosque, also attended the blessing.
Cllr Abbas said: "This is just the initial step in enabling relatives and loved ones within the Nepalese Gurkha community to have an area of peaceful reflection. We will soon be installing a memorial wall with space to cast ashes and for plaques to be placed in memorial. We will also be putting in hedging to define this area.
"I am delighted that the many faiths and communities within Thurrock continue to be represented. In May 2020, we hosted a special blessing here at this cemetery in a space dedicated to Muslim burials, and recently the first in a new series of religious prayer services for Thurrock's Hindu community was held after we were approached by members of the community who do not have a Temple in Thurrock."
Cllr Jefferies said: "I would like to thank our many council services who have helped to provide a dedicated resting place for the Nepalese Gurkha community in Thurrock."
Cllr Halden said: "I'm pleased that we have provided a dedicated section within West Thurrock Cemetery for burials, and in the future the casting of ashes, for the Nepalese Gurkha community. We were asked if we could provide a dedicated area for members of this community a short while ago and I'm delighted to have been part of this private blessing taking place today."
Man Bahadur Rai, president of the Thurrock Nepalese (Gurkha) Community, said: "I would like to say thank you to Cllr Abbas for securing the first cemetery for our community. This is very important for the borough's Nepalese Gurkhas and shows how we are welcomed as a part of Thurrock's community."
Photo below: the Mayor and Cabinet members with the TNG Community and faith and spiritual leaders in West Thurrock Cemetery.