Prague, Oct 26 (CTK) – The practice and customs related to burials have been changing radically in the Czech Republic in recent years, with more and more people having their deceased relatives’ ashes scattered, most often at burial meadows but also elsewhere, Lidove noviny (LN) wrote on Thursday.

The ashes scattering, which many people prefer to the most widespread deposition of an urn in a columbarium at a cemetery, costs some 2,000 crowns, compared with 25,000 crowns as the average price of a usual cremation or a burial in the ground, the daily writes.

“We accomplish about 950 ashes-scattering acts, accompanied with a [last farewell] ceremony a year,” Marek Samsula, head of the Brno cemeteries’ administration authority, told LN, confirming people’s growing interest in ashes-scattering.

As a result, clients have to wait for the ceremony, most often one or two weeks, he said.

If the deceased died in frosty winter months, their families have to wait for the ashes scattering until the spring. The ceremony can be performed only from April to October, when the ground is not frozen, the daily writes.

In the past, burials in the ground were obligatory. Cremation appeared in the Czech Lands about 100 years ago when the first crematorium started to operate in Liberec, north Bohemia.

Cremation prevails over burials in the ground in the 80-20 proportion now. The latter method is the most widespread in south Moravia, the daily writes.

The style of the funeral, or the last farewell ceremony, is changing as well. The number of classical funerals has been decreasing in favour of mere cremations without a farewell ceremony, LN continues.

“The average share of classical funerals is about 70 percent, but only some 50 percent in big agglomerations,” Jaroslav Mangl, head of the Czech Association of Funeral Services, is quoted as saying.

In cities, people feel more anonymous and do not feel ashamed to omit a last respects ceremony. In the countryside, people would not dare to do so, as it would bring shame on them, the daily writes.

In this respect, the Czech Republic is a rarity, it writes.

“A burial or cremation without a farewell ceremony does not exist anywhere abroad, it is a specific Czech practice,” Hana Svechotova, from another association of funeral services said.

An urn in a columbarium remains the most wanted solution, but more and more people tend to opt for ashes-scattering.

The law does not say how the heirs should handle their deceased relative’s remains. It only requires that human remains be handled in a way that is dignified and does not jeopardise public health and order, the paper writes.

The ashes of the deceased are usually scattered or poured in a shallow hole at a cemetery’s burial meadow. The event can be accompanied by a farewell ceremony including flowers, wreaths, speeches and music, the daily writes.

The scattering ceremony costs 2000 crowns. In the case of ashes deposited in a hole, the price is 1,800 crowns for a hole rented for ten years.

Ashes can also be scattered elsewhere, including on the family’s own plot, such as the late person’s favourite garden.

The scattering on another owner’s plot or a public plot outside a cemetery is also possible, but only with the owners’ consent, defence lawyer Jiri Hartman told LN.

On the other hand, the authorities cannot meet the deceased persons’ last wish for their remains to be scattered in a river or a lake, because ashes are viewed as a substance that harms the quality of water. Exceptions are granted in this respect now and then, however, the daily writes.

Natural burials, or forest cemeteries where environmentally-friendly urns with ashes are deposited in the ground near trees, is another trend that has been rising in Western Europe.

In the Czech Republic, there is only one such burial ground the time being, that in Prague-Dablice, and another is to open in Brno-Lisen next year, LN writes.