Hindu funeral consists of three parts, which start the moment a believer passes away.
- A funeral/visitation – takes place at the family home immediately after the death
- The cremation ceremony – occurs within the first 28 hours (48 at the latest)
- A shraddha ceremony – performed in honour of the person’s ancestors (approximately 10 days after death)
Hindu Death Rituals – Body Preparations
Hinduism gives great importance to the ‘holy bath’, which is traditionally performed by family members. That includes washing the body with a mixture of ghee, honey, milk, and yoghurt, reciting mantras as well as shrouding the body in plain white sheets.
Many funeral homes support the tradition of the family washing the body, while some take it upon themselves to perform the cleaning.
Visitation and Viewing Before the Funeral
Traditionally, the body should remain in the family home until the cremation ceremony. Hence, a brief wake usually takes place before cremation, displaying the body in a simple casket.
Essential oils should be placed on the forehead of the deceased, and all attending should gather around to recite hymns and mantras. The casket is removed feet-first and brought to the crematorium.
The main ceremony is considered a brief ritual. Mourners will recite prayers as the casket is carried into the crematorium (feet first). Senior family members and a Hindu priest should conduct the MukhAgni (traditional cremation ceremony).