Funeral Etiquette in Other Cultures: India

blog-post_featuredHinduism is the religion of the majority of people in India. With over a billion followers, Hinduism is the world’s third largest religion.

Hindus believe there is only a death of the physical body; there is no death of the soul. Upon death, the soul departs or detaches from the body. The body has no significance and therefore, no efforts are made to preserve it.

For this reason, most Hindus choose cremation. The body is usually cremated on the day of the death, the cremated remains are collected and on the fourth day, the cremated remains are dispersed in a sacred body of water or other meaningful location.

Although funeral rites vary depending on the specific sects of Hinduism, family practices and locations, most mourners wear simple, modest, casual white clothing. There are prayers and hymns, and a priest or oldest son typically presides at the service.

If the loved one is to be buried, the casket will be open and mourners are expected to quietly and respectfully view the person who has died.

On the 12th or 13th day after the funeral, families celebrate and appreciate the life that was lived with a feast. By this time, the soul is believed to have completed its travels through a world of ghosts and into the revered land of the ancestors.

A Hindu scripture known as Bhagavad Gita speaks of how the soul cannot be pierced by a sword, burned by fire, melted by water or dried by air. The soul is free, holy, pure, and flawless. The goal of a Hindu is to avoid reincarnation so the soul can unite with the Supreme Soul and achieve liberation.

Ways that you can show your support to an Indian family if you attend a funeral would be by being at the service in casual dress. Black attire would be inappropriate and white is preferred. Flowers may be offered, but bringing food is not part of the Hindu custom. There is always an open casket and guests are expected to view the body. Keep in mind our funeral home is knowledgeable and respectful of all cultures, religions and practices and we can help you with all your questions. Trust us to honor your loved one and show veneration for your family’s beliefs and customs.

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