Rituals of death and cremation in Hinduism: When any person of Hindu religion dies, he is given funeral rites and rites in Hindu religion. Sometimes even when a pet in a Hindu household dies, it is given a Hindu funeral and cremation. As per Hindu religion, cremation of dead body is considered obligatory.
Rituals of death and cremation in Hinduism
Dying Hindus sit close to the corpse and chant sacred hymns, closing their eyes. Tirthajal, Gangodak, Tulsipatra etc. Put in his mouth. Although there is a scripture that says that relatives should not grieve after death, relatives grieve.
There is a tradition of communal outcry in many Hindu tribes. After the corpse is picked up, it is placed in a south-facing lamp, clothing, water jug, and other items for ten days.
In Hinduism dead bodies are considered very impure and untouchable for certain reasons. After taking a bath facing south, the Yama-direction, they are clothed in bare clothes. Monks and infants up to three years of age are buried. Others take the dead to the crematorium with garlands, gulal, bukka or gandha and burn them on pyres. This ritual becomes convocational if the deceased is a close relative and non-convocational if not.
The dead body is placed on a bamboo and grass litter and taken to the graveyard. There are tricks to keeping the corpse covered or uncovered while being carried to the crematorium. Family members, friends or close people carry the Tirdi. Putra or Apta performs Kshaur and keeping fire in a pot, takes the pot in his nose and walks in front of the procession.
The wife’s lucky charms are burnt along with the deceased. The illegal practice of burning a wife, along with her dead husband, existed before the British rule, known as ‘Sati’. Although sati was voluntary according to Dharmashastra, it was compulsory among the higher Hindu tribes, but not for all the wives of the deceased. Apta gives fire to a man from the head and from the feet to a woman. Then he carries a water-filled jar on his shoulder.
A hole is made in the cart with a stone, the edge of the water is circled around the pyre and he makes three rounds. Gadge breaks on the same stone. After 10 days they bathe on that stone, this stone is called ‘Ashma’.
The cremation of the deceased is called ‘Antyeshti’. The deceased Agnihotra is cremated in his Shrautagni along with the sacrificial vessel. In Vedic times, Agnihotri kills the cow of the deceased, spreads its meat over the corpse and wraps the corpse in a net.
Sons, Apta and other companions from the funeral procession take bath immediately after returning with their clothes on. After the cremation pyre cools down, the bones and ashes are tied up and immersed in a river or a well. Those who can afford it go to pilgrimages and get immersed. After the death of her husband, Hindu women do not wipe their kunku and reapply it. Observance of Vrat Amran is considered as religion.
Funeral and cremation of a Sannyasis
Sannyasis bathe the dead body of the person, decorate it and take it to the burial place and worship it. Before burial, the head is broken with a shell or a weapon and the body is buried. There is also a practice of throwing the body of the ascetic in the shrine. It is called ‘Jalasamadhi’.
For ten days Samadhisthan Puja, Pisabalidan, Lampdan and Shankhodkarpan were performed. Parvanshraddha on the eleventh, Narayanabali on the twelfth and then Samaradhan. After this, the samadhi of the ascetic is built.
Shraddhas are performed on odd days from one to eleven in relation to others. On the 11th, a two-year-old bull is set free as a sacrifice. If there is no strength, they bully Mritika or Pishta. Nearer ones observe ‘Sutak’ for ten days and distant ones for three days.
On the 10th day, pinddan is done in the open on an earthen udkumbh. The embryo is expected to be sewn by a crow. Shraddha is performed on the twelfth day. On the twelfth-thirteenth day, Brahmin Bhojan and Aptesht Bhojan are held. From that day, the ghost becomes Pitris (The Pitris are the spirits of the departed ancestors in Hindu culture).
In case of death by weapons, snakes, poison and fire, Narayan sacrifices and propitiates. It is customary to make various kinds of donations on the occasion of the dead. The practice of erecting Vrindavans or other types of memorials to the dead has been going on since the Vedic period.
Some Brahmins have a tradition of taking rice cooked with the corpse out of the house, placing it on the corpse’s mouth and leaving Udak on it. It is the custom of all Hindus to place a lamp facing south as if the feet of a corpse are facing south.
The corpses of widows and orphans are covered. In some non-Brahmin castes, it is customary to take some grain from Supat and dump it on the path of ghost. The Rig Veda (10.18.11-13) mentions the practice of burying corpses. The practice of cremation began later. The Rig Veda itself mentions ‘Agnidagdha’ and ‘Anagnidahadha’. From them it seems that both modes were running.