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Evolution of Funeral Services in India

deadbodytransport ground-ambulance1

deadbodytransport ground-ambulance1

Funeral services are a universal phenomenon that takes place in every corner of the world. There is not a single community that doesn’t perform funeral services for their loved ones. The only difference is the ritual. They differ from one part of the country to another. A country like India which is diverse with innumerable communities does follow a myriad of services pertaining to funerals. Few communities celebrate death while most mourn. The perspective differs.

As there is so much to write and can’t be accomplished in one blog, we will try to talk about the funeral services in Hindu tradition: then and now. Continue reading and know more. There is no such record that talks about a unanimous funeral tradition. What history records is of Sati, an old-age tradition where a woman had to join her husband’s pyre and abolish her existence. This tradition seemed hostile and cruel, many revolted and abolished it from society.

Hindus, all over the country, tried to come to a consensus of following a funeral tradition that everyone could follow, with tweaks here and there. Some of the common rituals performed for someone’s funeral are detailed below.

Common funeral rituals

• People gather and flock from different parts of the country, who were related to the deceased, and pay their last respect to the dead.

• A priest is requested to perform the prayer, which is unique to last rites only.

• The deceased is given a bath and dressed most preferably in a fresh white piece of cloth.

• The clothing type and color depend on the status/gender of the deceased.

• The priest performs prayers and the close family members offer flowers and respect.

• Soon after the custom is followed, and everyone important is present, the body is ready to be either cremated or buried.

While most Hindus cremate, there may be a few that bury. It is believed that the deceased need to be cremated to be buried within one day of the death. After the cremation/burial, the immediate family members perform a ritual, where everyone present on the day of cremation/burial is invited and fed. The funeral service has undergone several changes in the past decades.