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Hindu Funeral Customs

Most Hindus are cremated as it is believed that this will help their soul to escape quickly from the body.

The exact details of the funeral ceremonies, which form the last of the samskaras(antyeshti samskara, final reincarnation), vary according to tradition and place. Funerals are usually conducted by a priest and by the eldest son of the deceased.

Various rituals may take place around the dead body:

  • a lamp is placed by the head of the body
  • prayers and hymns are sung
  • pindas (rice balls) are placed in the coffin
  • water is sprinkled on the body
  • a mala (necklace of wooden beads) may be put around the dead person’s neck as may garlands of flowers

How the cremation takes place depends on where this happens.

In Australia the coffin will be closed and taken to a crematorium.

Afterwards the ashes of the deceased are sprinkled on water. Many people take the ashes to India to put on the waters of the Ganga; others may take them to the sea near to where they live.

After the funeral the widow or widower will wear white as a sign of mourning. The close family may mourn for twelve days.


Hindu Prayer Beads: They represent the ingredients used in the process of creation.