When a Hindu dies, it is believed that they should, if possible, have the name of God on their lips, as this is supposed to bring them closer to God. Every true Hindu, would like to die in Benares, the holiest of all holy places.
It is believed that Moksha will come to those who are fortunate to die there. If it is not possible to die in Benares, a Hindu wishes to die near the River Ganges, because a Hindu believes that the sacred waters of the Ganges washes away the Karma that binds the sol to earthly existence, and so, Moksha may come to them more easily.When a Hindu does die, their lips are touched with water containing leaves from the sacred Tulsi plant. This cleanses the lips of the dead, which helps to wash away bad karma that prevents the soul from achieving moksha. At the point of death, the Hindu’s family is able to mourn, however, they mustn’t show too much emotion, as this disturbs the spirit.
(I think that this teaching is good, because it helps the mourners to stop mourning ~ because not mourning, is the best thing for the dead Hindu’s soul.This gives a reason for the relatives to stop mourning, and start coping with their loss. ) In India, the dead Hindu’s funeral must be within a day, wherever possible, and in England, it should be within three days. Because fire is very important in Hinduism, it is not very much of a surprise that a Hindu is cremated when he dies. Before the dead person’s funeral, everything is washed, because death represents uncleanliness. The body is placed in a coffin, along with offerings of rice, 1 or 2 coins, ghee, coconut, jasmine and red tilak powder.This will accompany the soul to its new life.
The body is covered with a new piece of red cloth, and the family and friends that attend the funeral, also wear red. Red is the colour of life, and so it is the colour worn at both weddings and funerals, as Hindus believe that: ‘Death is the beginning of a new life, and not the end of everything’ (Again, I think that this is a very good belief, because it means that Hindus can look forward to the departed person’s future, rather than mourn that the friend’s life has stopped forever. )The body is carried to the place of cremation, and lain on a funeral pyre. The pyre is a pile of wood that has been specially chosen according to the teachings of the holy books. Musicians and well wishers often follow the coffin.
The eldest son of the dead person (or another close relative) lights the funeral pyre with a flaming torch. Many Hindus believe that burning the body helps the soul become free of the effects of life that it has just completed. ‘Dear Departed, your life in this form is over, and now, let your soul carry on reaching ever nearer the final aim.But now, let your sight return to the sun, your soul to the atmosphere, your breath to the wind, all the waters, to the ocean, and all physical form, to the earth, and let you assume new bodies in this endless cycle of birth and rebirth. ‘ After the funeral, the mourners will bathe, and offerings of water will be made to the soul, from joined hands, with the words ‘May this oblation reach thee’ being repeated over and over again.
Some Hindus do not believe that children should attend funerals: ‘The innocence of our children should not be subject to the trauma of a loss.Our children should be protected from that. ‘ Others believe that children should attend funerals ‘Our children must learn that death is an ongoing process, and not something to be feared.
Funerals are a celebration of life, and not a ritual meant to frighten’ (Perhaps, if a Hindu has been reincarnated, they have already died, and may have experienced the grief of losing a loved one. This is correct for both children and adults. ) Three days after the body has been burned, the bones are collected from the priest and placed into a river, especially the River Ganges.For the next ten days, Hindus recite prayers and leave offerings of food for the soul. The Hindu’s family wears only white clothing, and simple food is only consumed. This is all done to show the spirit of the dead that the family is truly grateful for kind acts done in his life.
By the tenth day, the spirit is ready to travel to the Land of Yama, the God of the dead. On the 11th day, the eldest son will shave his hair, and on the 13th day, the family holds a feast, which symbolises the end of mourning, and the start of normality. Although life does return to normal, simple offerings are made once a month to remember the dead.