Understanding Hindu Funeral Rites and Traditions

By: Jacklyn Hutchens
Saturday, April 24, 2021

Hinduism dates back to more than 4,000 years, making it the world's oldest religion. It started in India and now has over a billion followers from all over the globe. Hindus believe that God (Brahman) lives in every object and being; and that the purpose of life and reincarnation is to realize and accept God's divine essence.

How Hindus View Death

Reincarnation is an integral part of Hinduism, and it directly affects what happens in every Hindu funeral ceremony. It is said that every individual soul (atman) is immortal, and the choices one makes in the previous life (Karma) determines what form the soul can inhabit next. This cycle continues throughout many lifetimes until the soul unites once more with God by completing acts that represent the paths of duty, knowledge, or devotion.

The high regard for the eternal soul signifies the lesser concern for the physical body, as it only serves as a vessel and nothing more. This is why Hindus have been cremating the dead for over 4,000 years, believing that reducing the flesh to ashes is the fastest way to release the soul and start the reincarnation cycle.

The Hindu Funeral Ceremony

Traditionally, Hindu funerals take place near the Ganges River, India. The bereaved cite mantras led by a Hindu priest or the eldest son of the deceased. The family can then start a funeral pyre or take the deceased to a crematorium. The funeral rites also include the preparation of the body done by the family, where they:

  • Use ghee, honey, milk, and yogurt to wash the remains
  • Use blessed oils to anoint the head
  • Dress or wrap the body in white cloth

On the other hand, plenty of Hindus worldwide also choose the simplicity of a direct cremation. Modern Hindu funerals can be all done within 24 hours from the time of death, making embalming unnecessary.

Hindu Funeral Services

At Direct Cremation Services of Virginia, you can have a dignified memorial for your loved ones. You can either get involved and perform the traditional Hindu funeral customs or opt for a quick and straightforward cremation. Reach out to us for caring and affordable funeral planning and other services.

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