An Overview of Hindu Funeral Customs

The Hindu faith has an alternative view of life and death to that of other religions. Because of that, all local crematorium services must do all they can to accommodate Hindu families during bereavement. This means offering traditional Hindu funeral services and visitations and listening to specific needs about Hindu funeral rites and customs. Here is a brief guide on what we can help with when planning a Hindu funeral.

What Parts Are Common in Hindu Funerals?

Typically, there are three parts to the process of a Hindu funeral. The cremation is crucial to help the family say goodbye and allow them to honour the body according to their customs. However, the ceremony before this and the mourning period after are just as important.

1) Visitation

Visitations are an important way for families to come together and pay their respects before the funeral service. This can include a pooja cremation to prepare the body for cremation, the details of which are highlighted below. This all takes place soon after the death, often within 24 hours, and respectful funeral homes will understand these needs.

2) A cremation

Following the visitation of the body, the family will come together for the traditional Hindu cremation. This is called a makhani and, in accordance with Canadian law, will take place at the crematorium. Cremation is an important part of the Hindu faith because of strongly held beliefs about the body and soul. It is important for the living to help the soul pass on from the body for an easier reincarnation. At this point, the body has no physical purpose for either the dead or the living. As such, there is no need to preserve it in the ground via a burial.

3) A period of mourning

Hindu culture has a traditional mourning period of 10-30 days. The family will continue to honour the dead with pictures and flowers in the house and will open their doors to guests. This can include a preta-karma ritual on the 13th day to help release the soul for reincarnation. They may also perform a shraddha during this time to honour their ancestors.

All cremations in Canada must occur in a licensed funeral home and crematorium. Our Brampton crematorium team knows how important accommodating Hindu funerals and allowing for all rituals and rights onsite is. Families should feel comforted and secure knowing they can help their loved one’s soul reach reincarnation with the help of our professional team. We will always do our best to help you through these steps and understand the importance of the following customs.

Hindu Funeral Customs and Rites

Many Hindu funeral rites occur during the ceremony; traditionally, the priest and eldest son will help lead the family through them. During these funeral rituals, the family will also perform mantras and chants. Families without the eldest son or with alternative customs based on their family’s sect can discuss alternative arrangements with the funeral home. This also means deciding which family members will give speeches or readings, and who may wish to arrange a slideshow for the ceremony.

Families can also discuss other details about the ceremony and dress code. It is still customary in Canada to wear black as a sign of respect and mourning at a funeral. Some who attend a Hindu funeral may feel obligated to do the same. However, it is traditional to wear bright colours at a Hindu funeral instead. This is because the Hindu faith focuses on the life and reincarnation of the deceased’s soul rather than the finite death of the body.

Pooja Rituals And Customs

There are many rituals for cleansing and preparing the body before cremation, such as how the family dresses the body, its position, and other offerings. It is common to wash the body with ghee, honey, milk, and yogurt and to sprinkle it with water. Family members may also add essential oils to the head of the deceased and place flowers or rice balls around it. The hands are then placed in a prayer position, and the toes are tied together.

The choice for dressing the body can depend on whether families want a more contemporary or traditional service. Some prefer to go with the traditional white sheet. It also isn’t uncommon for families to bring a last meal for the deceased to help them with that transition into the next life.

 It is important that all Hindu families feel comfortable talking about these needs and wishes when planning a Hindu funeral and cremation. The best funeral directors can help you connect with an understanding Hindu priest and make sure everyone is accommodated and well-respected.

Hindu Funeral Traditions Following A Cremation.

As a professional and considerate crematorium, we know that cremation traditions don’t end with burning the body. Following the funeral and wake, we will get in touch to pass on the deceased’s ashes so families can continue with their traditions. We can keep them as long as needed until family members are ready to take them.

The next step for many Hindu families is to scatter the ashes in a meaningful place. Often, this involved scattering them overflowing water. Many traditional funerals in India take place on the banks of the Ganges. Any opportunity to scatter ashes in a river here would honour that.

Planning A Hindu Funeral With Brampton Crematorium.

There is a lot to consider when planning for a Hindu funeral. We don’t want Hindu families ever to shy away from their faith and the important Hindu funeral rites that come with that. We want to help them celebrate life and reincarnation with a respectful traditional ceremony that fully honours them and their loved ones. We are happy to discuss all concerns and needs and set you up with a Hindu priest to guide you through the whole process. Contact Brampton Crematorium & Visitation Centre at 905-458-2222 today to learn more.