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What Do You Wear to a Hindu Funeral?

Considered the world’s oldest religion, Hinduism has extensive philosophies and traditional practices that date back to its beginning some 4,000 years ago. One of these is holding funeral rites for the deceased, with designated rituals, mourning periods, and dress codes.

So what do you wear to a Hindu funeral? This article will break down its dress code right to the basics.

What Does White Mean in Hinduism?

Knowing the proper colour to wear to any funeral is of utmost importance, and in Hinduism, it’s white. To Hindus, white signifies peace, purity, knowledge, and cleanliness. It’s also associated with the goddess of knowledge and wisdom, Saraswati. On top of that, Hindu religious leaders cover themselves with white ash to symbolize their spiritual rebirth. 

Hindu Funeral Dress Code for Men and Women

The basic rule in funeral outfits for Hindus is to keep it simple and casual, and wearing all white is the norm. For instance, men can wear white polo shirts and pants, while women can wear long white dresses or loose blouses and pants that cover the shoulders and knees. 

Head covering for both sexes is traditionally worn, but modern practices can count them out. Open-toe shoes for women and nude-colour or grey shoes for men are often used for footwear. 

Alternative Colours Fit for a Hindu Funeral

If you can’t get yourself to wear white or don’t have it in your wardrobe, your next best alternatives are light pastel and nude colours. You can also try off-white clothes with pale gold highlights on the hems. 

What Pieces of Jewelry and Accessories Can You Wear to a Hindu Funeral?

We know it sounds unusual, but yes, you can wear accessories. But like your primary clothing style, jewellery worn during Hindu funerals must be simple and casual. Common accessories include:

  • Gold or silver watch
  • Scarf
  • Sunglasses
  • Stud earrings
  • Pendant necklace 

The rule of thumb is not to make these accessories look too extravagant. Instead, use them to highlight your outfit without being overwhelming.

What Not to Wear to a Hindu Funeral

Now that we’ve covered the proper colours and attires, it’s time to discuss the don’ts. Wearing black is a no-go. It’s a colour associated with negative energy and evil. If the idea is to send your loved ones to the next realm peacefully, evil is the least you’d want to accompany them.

Strict adherence to the Hindu funeral dress code is still widely practised in India, where 95% of Hindus live. However, modern practices have paved the way for more flexible guidelines for dressing up, especially in Western countries. 

Before the ceremony, try asking the family of the bereaved if they have any clothing preferences. More often than not, they’ll give out suggestions on colour themes and styles.