Hindu Funeral Service Rituals: Summary & Reference Guide

Hindu funeral customs

Quick Reference
Length of Service
Depends
Flowers?
Yes
Food?
No
Dress Code? (Men/Women)
White & Casual
Recording Devices?
No
Source of Readings?
Mantra
Open Casket?
Always, but do not touch the body
Return to Work? (Days)
10 – 30
No. of Days to Mourn?
10 – 30

Unlike other religions, Hinduism has no founder and no common creed or doctrine. Most prevalent among Asian Indians, the religion teaches that God is within each being and object in the universe and also transcends every being and object. It teaches that the essence of each soul is divine; and that the purpose of life is to become aware of that divine essence.

The Hindu gods and goddesses can be called on to help. Their goal is to help believers transcend the world as it is ordinarily perceived and realize the divine presence. The many forms of Hindu worship, ritual and meditation are intended to lead the soul toward the direct experience of God or Self.

Although the physical body dies, the individual soul has no beginning and no end. It may pass to another reincarnation depending on one’s karma (the consequences of one’s actions over lifetimes). If the soul has realized the true nature of reality, it may become one with the Brahman, the “One.”

Next Page: More on Hindu Beliefs

In the Hindu funeral tradition, the body remains at the home until it is cremated, which is usually within 24 hours after death. There, at the service, mourners may dress casually. Black attire is inappropriate and white is preferred. Flowers may be offered, but bringing food is not part of the Hindu custom. There is always an open casket and guests are expected to view the body. The Hindu priest and senior family members conduct the ceremony. Guests of other faiths, as well as Hindus are welcome to participate, but not expected to do so. Using a camera or recorder of any kind is not considered polite.

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Ten days later, a ceremony is held at the home of the deceased in order to liberate the soul for its ascent into heaven. Visitors are expected to bring fruit. The mourning period ranges from 10 to 30 days after the death.

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