About 30,000 deaths happen in India every day and as most of nuclear families are unaware of the procedure about last rites, many individuals as well as families are facing numerous issues. Continue to read this article more to get all your questions answered about the last rites ritual.
We have created a small video answering all of these common questions around Hindu last rites. Please check this out.
What are last rites?
Last rites is also known as Antyesti or Anthim Sanskaris derived from a Sanskrit word Antya which means last and Isti which means sacrifice, which together means last sacred ceremony. Anthim Sanskar is believed as one of the important Samkars of 16 Samkars in the life of a Hindu.
It is believed that as per Hindu scriptures, the human body and the universe, is made of five elements that are; air, water, fire, earth and space. The last rites ritual returns the body to these five elements and its origins. This anthim sanskar ritual is first identified in the Rig Veda.
What happens after death Hindu?
- As soon as the person dies, the body has to be placed on the grass mat or on the floor. This gesture symbolizes that the death should happen in the arms of the mother earth. The bed which the person was using should be discarded.
- Pour Gangajal or Tulsi water into the mouth of the dead. Oil lamp and agarbatti should be lit and kept near the body. The family diety photo should be placed in front of the house in an earthen pot. Pinda or rice bowl has to be placed near the dead body.
- The body should be then taken to crematorim. Place the body such that the feet should face the South direction. Offer three Pinda or rice bowls along with sacred water. Eyes, mouth, ears and nostrils should be covered.
- Basing on the community and the culture, few people would burn the body using electric burner, others would bury under the ground and others would place the body on wooden logs and put fire.
- After the burial, Punyaha vachanam, Shanti Homa, Ananda Homa, Sapandi Karana and Danam have to be performed.
How is body prepared for cremation?
- Rub oil and bath powder on the head of the dead and should washed and dressed in white by their family members.
- Now the toes should be tied together and the hands should be kept in the Namaskar position with the two thumbs tied.
- Place vibhuthi on the forehead for men, whereas for women place kumkum and turmeric along with the flower garland or tulsi leaves around the neck.
Why do Hindus cremate their dead?
The soul and the body are attached very closely to each other. In order to break this bond, the body is cremated so that the soul would reach the heaven or the Pitruloka. Soul, then reincarnates into some other life form and passes through the same cycle of birth and eventually again meets death.
Who can perform last rites?
The last rites ritual is mainly performed by the male person, either the son or the son-in-law and women are not allowed to perform this ritual due to the following reasons. As women are soft hearted and very emotional this ritual would be very difficult for them to perform. Issues such as mensuration and pregnancy could be a hindrance.
How to dress for a Hindu funeral?
It is the tradition that the guests and the family members should wear white or light colored dresses and no head covering is required. Women should make sure that they are covering their arms and knees. Open toe shoes and jewellery is accepted but in a minimalistic manner.
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