In a significant development for the Hindu and Indian American communities in New Jersey, a bill allowing standalone cremation facilities has passed the Assembly Regulated Professions Committee and is now headed to the full Assembly for consideration.

The proposed legislation, introduced on May 2, 2024, by Assemblyman Robert Karabinchak and Committee Chairman Sterley Stanley, seeks to amend state laws to permit crematories to operate independently of cemetery grounds or funeral home properties.

Bill A4216 aims to provide religious communities, such as Hindus and other groups that practice cremation, with dedicated facilities that honor their traditions. The bill stipulates that crematories can be owned or operated by governmental entities, religious corporations, or nonprofit cremation companies.

The bill also requires crematory companies to file operational details with the New Jersey Cemetery Board, post regulations and service charges, and obtain municipal consent for establishment or enlargement. Additionally, it mandates maintaining detailed records of each cremation and prohibits the sale of urns or involvement in funeral home operations.

If enacted, the New Jersey Cemetery Board will issue 12 permits for the operation of standalone crematories, which will be exempt from certain statutory requirements.

The Coalition of Hindu Organizations of North America (CoHNA) played a pivotal role in the bill’s advancement, collaborating with over 25 community organizations, temples, and senior associations. Dhiren Amin and the Indian Business Association have been recognized for their leadership and advocacy efforts.