After Hindus perform death rituals and return home, they have to purify themselves and their living space. It’s in Hinduist belief that impure energy lingers after the death of a person. This energy extends to their living space and their family members.
To purify themselves, Hindus bathe, clean the house and invite a priest to rid said house of unclean energy.
While mourning, the family is prohibited from attending or catering to religious functions, such as reading holy scriptures or visiting sacred places.
Furthermore, the family is to remain at home as much as possible. Friends and relatives are encouraged to visit, pay their respects, and mourn with the family to build positive karma for the deceased.
Finally, immediate relatives of the deceased are forbidden from eating several foods, like Rasajik food (meat and fish), tamasik food (onions and garlic), and sweets.
After the 13th day, the restrictions are lifted, and the family can resume its day-to-day routine. However, Hindus still consider the family to be in mourning for a year after a loss.
Expression of Grief
Hinduism encourages the bereaved to express their sorrow, and the rituals performed in ceremonies promote this. Friends and relatives are also encouraged to visit and provide support and comfort to help the soul prepare for reincarnation.
While the family typically purifies itself and its living space on the first day, the coming days may involve:
- Niravapanjali: The deceased’s ashes are immersed in a sacred body of water so that his soul may ascend to heaven.
- Tarpana: The closest relatives make a sacred offering to the Gods so that the soul may enter Svarga, the celestial abode of devas.
- Rasam pagri: This ritual is conducted on the 4th day to appoint a successor in the family, which is usually the oldest surviving male member.
- Shaving: On the 9th day, male family members may shave their heads. This is considered a symbolic offering, as letting go of part of their beauty is a humbling act.
Pind Sammelan: Performed on the 13th day, its goal is to convert the soul from a preta (evil) to pitr (good) to be included in the ancestors.