Welcome to Smaran, the North West’s personalised, authentic Asian funeral service. A modern compassionate and caring team of funeral directors, where the focus is on supporting you and your family through this difficult time.
My name is Dr Gauri Batra, and I have set up Smaran to cater for the unique needs of the wider Indian and Asian community.
So why did a regular NHS practising doctor get involved in a specialised funeral service rather than spend her time-saving lives?
I was born into a Hindu family in Mumbai, India. Growing up as a Hindu, I identified my religion more as a way of life than something that set me within boundaries and restrictions, and I never imagined that I would come to consider life and death as a Hindu in more detail.
I trained as a doctor and practised as an obstetrician in India, by which I contributed (not personally) to the daily expanding population of one of the world’s most populous countries. On moving to the United Kingdom in my mid-20s, I trained as a histopathologist, and I have now worked as a pathologist in the NHS for more than 20 years. As a histopathologic, I routinely deal with death and the various processes around death such as end-of-life care, mortuary services and bereavement.
Hence, as a health professional, I have covered the full spectrum of birth, life and death, and I feel I have a unique perspective on death as an integral element of the circle of life. I have seen the positive and negative impacts that birth and death can have on the lives of individuals and their families.
On a personal front, in speaking with fellow temple goers and Hindu friends who had dealt with the loss of family and friends, I found that whilst local funeral services offered a caring service, there was inevitably a need for compromise – families described a lack of understanding of their needs and a lack of informed direction. It became clear to me that whilst Greater Manchester and the North West have several places of worship, there wasn’t a funeral service provider who specialised in Hindu funerals. Surprisingly, most religions of the Indian sub-continent were not catered to.
I truly believe in an equitable society and feel that end-of-life care and support should not require people to compromise on their religious and cultural requirements. Hence, I decided that I could personally contribute towards changing this lack of availability of authentic and personalised care for bereaved families originating from South-East Asia.
Through this belief and conviction, “Smaran” was born. In Hindi, “Smaran” means “Remembrance” – the memory and action of remembering, the memorial and remembrance of those who we have sadly lost but want to remember and treasure in the fondest of ways. Smaran brings forth my belief in offering everyone equitable access to the right level of personalised support they need, when they need it the most.
At Smaran we recognise that everyone is different – some people need a lot of help and support, and others need a lighter touch, but whatever their needs, everyone deserves to be treated with respect. Smaran is especially committed to ensuring that bereaved families are supported regardless of their race, religion, or culture. Whilst Smaran was born out of a recognition that there is no specialist Hindu funeral service, we have evolved to be able to offer personalised and authentic support to people of all Asian cultures and faiths.
When looking at the best way to set up a specialised new funeral business for the Hindu and wider South Asian communities, I was delighted to meet Stacey Booth from Remembrance Community Funeral Services. Stacey shares my ethos that everyone should have a personalised service that reflects the unique person that they are, including understanding and supporting their religious and cultural requirements. She is also committed to our shared ethos of being there for people and communities in life, and in death.
I will be adding to the services that Smaran can provide over the coming weeks and would love to hear from you with any advice or suggestions as to how we can ensure Smaran meets the needs of the Hindu and other South Asian communities.