More families are finding they cannot afford the rocketing cost of funerals and cremations for their loved ones, community groups have said.
The average cost of a funeral service is now £3,500, partly caused by a lack of burial space, according to the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB).
And the price of a cremation at a public crematorium has risen by a third since 2010 to around £640 due in part to new anti-pollution equipment and larger coffins.
It comes after hundreds of people gathered last week for the funeral of model Seema Jaya Sharma, 38, who died after a long battle with cancer. Her service in Ilford, east London, had a white horse-drawn carriage followed by limousines and a hearse filled with flowers.
Mohamed Omar runs Gardens of Peace in Essex, the largest Muslim cemetery in the UK.
He told Eastern Eye: “In terms of burial fees, it is a growing problem in the community and there are a number of families who are genuinely unable to afford the burial fees.
“Unlike the Jewish community, whereby everyone has to take a funeral plan, our community does not have a centralised system as yet.
“We, at Gardens of Peace, are trying to work on this issue and hopefully should have something in place very soon.
“There are very few dedicated Muslim cemeteries in the country. Land is at a premium and various studies have shown that burial space will become a major issue for all the communities going forward.”
Britain’s Hindu and Sikh communities cremate loved ones when they die and often scatter the ashes.
Harmander Singh, from the Sikhs in England think-tank, believes the rising costs is partly down to some families’ desire to go for “extravagant” ceremonies.
He said it costs £500 for food and a prayers ceremony at a gurdwara.
Singh told Eastern Eye: “You have to pay for religious activities, many people sadly try to outdo each other and want to be seen to be good.
“Funeral directors fees have gone up, depending on the number of hearses, whether a horse-drawn carriage is used.
“Some carry the body to the front of the gurdwara, which adds to the costs, but there’s nothing in Sikhism about this.”
The National Association of Funeral Directors said it will raise the issue of rising costs with the government.
Dominic Maguire, from the association, said costs had soared in recent years while undertakers’ fees had only risen by 3.5 per cent.
Tim Morris, chief executive of the Institute of Cemetery & Crematorium Management, said: “Local authority cemeteries and crematoria in the UK apply the same fees equally irrespective of age or faith. Equality is written into law and is a fundamental principles for local authorities.”
The Department for Work and Pensions has a fund where people on benefits can apply for help towards funeral costs.