New funeral home caters to Sikh community

FRESNO, Calif.

Dr. Botta Chahil of Visalia proudly shows off what will be a state of the art and exquisite structure in Fresno County. The $3.5-million facility will serve the needs of the Valley's Sikh population Which is estimated at 30-thousand.

In the Sikh religion, the body is cremated after death. Fresno County's Chief Forensic Pathologist Dr. Venu Gopal said there are two funeral homes in Fresno who try to accommodate Sikh families, but they aren't ideal. "Most of the time they do not keep the body for a week. Some of them have customs to cremate the body before sundown or the very next day."

Dr. Chahil said the Sikh community prays and grieves the same time as the cremation and they needed a large facility that would accommodate their needs.

Funeral home director Dr. Boota Chahil said, "I decided let us go and do it. If someone else can do it, why can we not do it?"

Dr. Chahil is a board certified neurologist, but he's also now a funeral director -- the only Sikh funeral director in the Valley. Among other things this new funeral home will have a cold storage room, a huge chapel for prayer, and two crematoriums.

He stresses this new facility will be available for all faiths and cultures. "It is not only for Sikhs, it is for anyone who wants to do the cremation. We can do this."

If all goes according to plan, The Shant Bhavan or "Peace Place" will be open for business as soon as this spring.

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