Rituals and Customs of a Hindu Funeral

Each religion has its own set of customs and traditions to be followed at the time of marriage, childbirth, and death. Respecting the traditions of each religion is important. The Hindu funeral traditions and customs involve various steps and guidelines to be followed. We look below at some of the rituals of a Hindu funeral ceremony.

 Preparing for a Hindu funeral – The Hindu death rituals primarily consist of three steps- the wake, cremation, and the shradda. Friends, family, and well-wishers can be a part of the wake up. At the cremation, close family and people of the Hindu faith may be a part. The shradda is generally open to all those who knew the deceased.

 Cremation – After you have notified family friends and others about the death, the family members must plan a cremation within 24-48 hours. Certain rules vary in relation to the gender of the deceased. During the ceremony, a Karta or the person who is actually performing the funeral rites is given the power to perform by a family member of the deceased. Preferably, it is the oldest son of the deceased who facilitate the cremation procedures. In case he is not available, the youngest son or any close male relative of the deceased can perform functions on his behalf. The Hindu funeral tradition does not believe in embalming or burying a dead body.

 Location and duration – A Hindu funeral service can last for 2 to 4 hours. It is generally done in a funeral home or any other facility where the open casket wake ceremony and cremation can be performed.

 Who can attend the funeral ceremony? Apart from the family members and the priest for funeral service, Hindu funerals can include all the loved ones, neighbours, friends, and well-wishers of the deceased person? These people help the grieving family in their difficult times.

 Rituals and customs – Few items such as plain rice, sesame seeds, cow dung, sandal paste, a matchbox, ghee, 30 coins amongst the many others are required for the cremation ceremony. The Hindu funeral ceremony is full of prayers, chants, and songs.

 Hindu funeral service etiquette – There are certain etiquette to be followed during a Hindu funeral ceremony in terms of what to wear to a Hindu funeral. Your clothing should be plain white. Fashionable clothes are strictly prohibited. Head shoulders, arms, and knees should be covered in women. Black dresses are not allowed to be worn in a Hindu funeral ceremony. You can wear open-toed shoes and a bare minimum of jewellery. The mood during a funeral service is a somber one. Hence, all the attendees must take care to share solidarity with the grieving family by maintaining the solemnity. Fruits can be taken if you are invited to be a part of the immersion ceremony by the family of the deceased.

Now that you have an understanding of the Hindu funeral services, you can be well prepared to attend one. Show support to the family of the deceased by praying for the deceased.