Hindu Funeral Traditions

Hindu Funerals

Hindus believe that when a person dies the soul is reincarnated into another body and this belief is the foundational element for Hindu funeral traditions. One universal Hindu tradition is cremation and this usually takes place within 1 -2 days after death as it’s believed to be the fastest way for the soul to depart the body.

Hindu funeral traditions are primarily divided into three parts:

  1. A funeral will be held in the family home.
  2. There will be a cremation ceremony known as the “Mukhagni”.
  3. Finally, there is a mourning period and a “Shraddha” ceremony.

Hindu Traditions and Funeral Arrangements

The funeral takes place in the family home for a day or two after the time of death. Traditions include chanting and recitation of funeral mantras over the body which will be on display – referred to as an open casket in western funerals. The proceedings are usually officiated by a Hindu priest, who leads the family and other mourners through the death rituals to help the spirit to pass to the next phase of their spiritual journey. 

Mourners should not wear black as white is the customary funeral colour, and clothing usually should cover arms and knees to be respectful to the departed. It’s appropriate to offer condolences and then a seat quietly. Non-Hindus are expected to sit quietly but are welcome to participate in chanting and mantras.

The Cremation

Hindus believe cremation is the fastest way for the soul to escape the body. The ceremony is known as “Mukhagni” and is usually only attended by Hindu’s and traditionally by men, however, this varies depending on the family’s wishes. Typically the eldest son presides, while the priest oversees. There is a ‘last food’ offering or rice balls made, singing, praying, chanting, with flowers arranged around the body. A lamp may be placed near the head with water sprinkled over the body prior to cremation. Traditionally, Hindus scatter ashes in the holy waters of the Ganges River in India but this may vary depending on the location they live. 

A "Srāddha" and "Preta-Karma" ceremony

The mourning period lasts on average for ten days, with the Srāddha on the tenth day. This third funeral ceremony may only be for family, but other times mourners are invited to attend. During the mourning period, the family won’t visit the family shrine and are prohibited from attending a temple or sacred places as it’s considered spiritually impure during this time. The Srāddha ceremony is performed to honour a dead ancestor and intends to nourish, protect, and support the spirit’s pilgrimage from the lower to the higher realms, preceding reincarnation.

The preta-karma ceremony is also important and takes place on the 13th day. It also serves to help the deceased person’s soul move from spirit to its new body in the reincarnation cycle. 

Select a Hindu Funeral with County Funerals

When choosing County Funerals you can have peace of mind that we will handle all arrangements with dignity and respect. For more information on how we can help, reach out to our team of experienced funeral directors. 

Google Rating
5.0
Based on 56 reviews