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What Do You Say When a Hindu Dies?

Offering condolences to a bereaved family is a common courtesy regardless of religion. But because belief systems vary, knowing the proper way to show sympathy requires more knowledge of tradition. The words you choose can mean sincerity or disrespect to the other party. So what do you say when a Hindu dies?

Is ‘Rest in Peace’ Acceptable in Hinduism?

Saying rest in peace when someone dies seems like a universal way of extending condolences. However, this statement doesn’t exactly work with Hinduism. To Hindus, death isn’t the end but rather a new beginning. There’s no rest for the soul—only rebirth.

Therefore, sending off a soul by saying rest in peace contradicts their belief in reincarnation. Instead of the eternal repose that the phrase signifies, Hindus believe in Moksha, which means the freedom of the soul to enter into divine bliss. 

In a sense, wishing the soul to rest in peace is like telling it to stay shackled in the realms of the living instead of letting it move on. 

How to Say Your Condolences When a Hindu Dies

There are three widely accepted phrases in Hinduism that are fit for expressing sympathy to the deceased family. 

Om Shanti (Om Peace)

This phrase isn’t only a famous meditation mantra that yoga practitioners use. Hindus use this phrase for the deceased to wish them peace in their journey to the next life. 

‘Om’ is a term associated with the sound of the creation of the universe. ‘Shanti,’ on the other hand, is a Sanskrit term that translates to peace. So uttering this phrase when a Hindu dies means you’re wishing them universal peace as they enter the process of reincarnation. 

Aatma Ko Sadgati Prapt Ho (May the Soul Attain Moksha)

Moksha in Hinduism means freedom from the endless cycle of life and death, and it’s the ultimate goal of anyone practicing this religion. 

Saying this phrase shows respect not only to the deceased but also for their belief. 

Om Sadgati (Om Salvation)

This phrase is considered a variation of the previous one. As the soul journeys to another life, the hope of its loved ones is that it someday gets liberated from the continuous cycle of rebirth, attaining Moksha.

In short, saying ‘Om Sadgati’ means that you hope for the deceased to achieve spiritual perfection after death. 

Why Saying the Right Words Matter

As with any other important event, attending Hindu funerals has its own set of dos and don’ts. Knowing what to say when unfamiliar with a religion’s practices is an excellent way to acquaint yourself with cultural differences and, more importantly, to pay your respects.