Arranging a Funeral
At Sanskar Asian Funerals, we tailor a funeral service to meet your family’s wishes and to comply with the law. Here is a guide to the kind of support and range of services you can expect.
After discussing your requirements, we will take detailed instructions concerning the services and facilities to be provided and then act to ensure the funeral is dignified and that all aspects are delivered to the highest professional standards.
It is important for us to emphasise that the services outlined here are only intended to give you a general idea. We will go through every detail with you and plan accordingly to make sure your loved family are spared as much stress and uncertainty as possible
a funeral ceremony is a cremation service known as "Antam Sanskar" or "Celebration of the completion of life". Rather than lamenting the passing of an individual, Sikhism teaches resignation to the will of the creator, emphasizing that death is a natural process, and an opportunity for reunion of the soul with its maker.
In the final moments of life, and at the time of passing, the Sikh family encourages their ailing loved one to focus on the divine by reciting "Waheguru" or comforting passages of scripture from the Guru Granth Sahib. In Sikhism, after a death occurs, funeral arrangements are made by the family which includes conducting a Sadharan Paath, or a complete reading of the Guru Granth Sahib. The SadharanPaath is carried out over a period of five to nine days following the Antam Sanskar funeral ceremony after which formal mourning concludes.
Preparation of the Deceased
The body of the deceased Sikh is bathed with yogurt and attired in clean clothing.
The hair is covered with a turban, or traditional scarf as usually worn by the individual who has passed away. The karkars, or five articles of faith worn by a Sikh in life, remain with the body in death.
Kachhera, an undergarment.
Kanga, a wooden comb.
Kara, a steel or iron bracelet.
Kes, uncut hair (and beard).
Antyesti - Funeral Traditions in Hinduism
Although death is a sad occasion, Hindus believe in reincarnation and see death as a transition bringing the soul closer to nirvana (heaven), so funerals tend to have an atmosphere of hope and joy as well as sadness for the loss of a relative or friend. Funerals are usually conducted by a priest and by the eldest son of the person who has died. Hindus are always cremated, believing that this releases the soul from its earthly existence.
The Venue for the Funeral Ceremony
Outside India, funerals normally take place in a crematorium. Hindus believe that when a body is burned, the fire frees the soul so that it can be reincarnated and the flames represent Brahma, the Hindu god of creation.
A Hindu funeral service that precedes the cremation is unlikely to be contained within a crematorium chapel due to the time constraints and the importance of a procession to pass places of significance to the deceased. Hence, it is better to hold the service in a temple or family home, and then go on for a committal at the crematorium.
Traditional Funeral Practices
Family members will pray around the body as soon as possible after death. People will try to avoid touching the corpse as it is considered polluting. The corpse is usually bathed and dressed in white, traditional Indian clothes. If a wife dies before her husband she is dressed in red bridal clothes. If a woman is a widow she will be dressed in white or pale colours.
The funeral procession may pass places of significance to the deceased, such as a building or street. Prayers are said here and at the entrance to the crematorium.
The body is decorated with sandalwood, flowers and garlands. Scriptures are read from the Vedas or Bhagavad Gita. The chief mourner, usually the eldest son or male, will light some kindling and circle the body, praying for the wellbeing of the departing soul.
Traditional Hindu families may choose to witness the start of the cremation process, and observe the committal of the coffin into the cremation furnace, reflecting the customs and practices in the Indian Subcontinent.
The Cremated Remains
Afterwards, the ashes of the dead person are sprinkled over flowing water. Many people take the ashes to India to put on the waters of the Ganges; others may take them to the sea near to where they live.
After the Funeral Service
After the cremation, the family may have a meal and offer prayers in their home. Mourners wash and change completely before entering the house after the funeral. A priest will visit and purify the house with spices and incense. This is the beginning of the 13-day mourning period when friends will visit and offer their condolences. Often, a garland of dried or fake flowers is placed around a photograph of the deceased to show respect for their memory. On the thirteenth day the samskara ends with Kriya. During this ceremony, rice balls and milk are offered to the dead person to show gratitude for his or her life.
A memorial service is held 31 days after death, during which a number of rituals are performed.
'Shradh' is practiced one year after the death of the person. This can either be an annual event or a large one-off event. This is the Hindu practice of giving food to the poor in memory of the deceased. A priest will say prayers for the deceased and during this time, usually lasting one month, the family will not buy any new clothes or attend any parties. Sons are responsible for carrying out Shradh.