Hinduism, a virtuous and ancient religion, encompasses beliefs about life and death that shape the rituals performed after the passing of a loved one. Hindus believe that just as our lives continue after death, the soul embarks on a new spiritual and eternal journey. Reincarnation plays a vital role, as the soul (atman) is believed to be reborn in a different body, its form influenced by the actions (Karma) performed in the present life. The ultimate aspiration is to achieve “Moksha,” liberation from the cycle of birth and rebirth.
To facilitate the peaceful progression of the soul and honour the departed, various rituals and ceremonies are conducted, varying based on the specific traditions followed by the bereaved family. Let’s explore some significant post-cremation rituals:
1. Chautha (Performed on the 4th Day After Loss):
On the fourth day after the loss, family and friends gather to observe the Chautha ceremony. This includes the recitation of prayers (Shanti path), the wearing of a turban (Rasam pagri), and the sharing of teachings on the true nature of life. Bhajans (devotional songs) are sung, and the departed soul is remembered. These rituals are believed to assist the departed spirit in obtaining a new body for reincarnation.
2. Asthi Visarjan (Immersion of Ashes):
Considered a highly auspicious ritual, Asthi Visarjan involves immersing the ashes of the deceased in holy rivers. It is believed that through this act, the soul is released from earthly bondage and progresses towards liberation. On the day of the last rites or on the third, seventh, or ninth day, the cremated remains are immersed in holy water bodies like Ganges, Godavari, Netravati etc. Many families go to sacred sites like Haridwar, Varanasi, Rishikesh, and other pilgrimages to do this practice.
3. Pindadaan (Offering Rice Balls):
According to Hindu funeral beliefs, after death, the soul is believed to wander on Earth in search of peace. Pindadaan is a ritual performed by relatives to offer circular rice balls to satisfy the departed soul’s hunger. This ritual is traditionally performed from the first to the tenth day after the death, although in modern times, it is sometimes combined into a single ceremony. Pindadaan rituals are conducted in temples dedicated to deities like Shiva. After the ritual, coconut oil is poured on the ashes, which are then submerged in flowing water.
4. Rituals for the 11th and 12th Day:
On the 11th day after death, a fire sacrifice known as Panchagavya Hom is performed at home in honour of the deities. The Karta, the chief performer of the last rites, makes a “Sankalp” or vow to benefit the departed soul by donating food grains. On the 12th day, Sapindikaran Shraddha is observed. It is believed that these rituals help the departed soul attain the status of “Pitru” and secure a position in Pitrulok, the realm of ancestors.
5. Ceremony for the Final 13th Day:
The acts performed on the 13th or 16th day after death are believed to give momentum to the departing soul’s journey. During this ceremony, community members, family, and friends are invited to share meals, sweets, and Prashad (blessed food). It symbolizes the soul cutting ties with the earthly realm and establishing a connection with the absolute soul.
6. 16th-Day Death Ceremony:
Following Hindu death customs, the father’s body is cremated, and the children are advised to avoid eating bananas and curd. Rice balls are placed near the body, and holy water is poured over it. A holy basil leaf is also placed on the body of the deceased. Many Hindu families observe the 16th-day death ceremony, during which the son’s head is shaved. Completing Hindu death rituals correctly is believed to uplift the mind, soul, and body and facilitate the transformation and renewal of the departed soul.
Hindu death rituals are deeply rooted in the beliefs and customs that surround the journey of the soul after death. These rituals are commemorated to respect the deceased and to provide them with spiritual assistance for their journey in the afterlife.
Following specific traditions, Hindus perform various ceremonies such as Chautha, Asthi Visarjan, and Pindadaan, rituals for the 11th and 12th day, and ceremonies for the final 13th and 16th day after death. By adhering to these rituals with respect and devotion, Hindus seek to ensure the peaceful passage and ultimate liberation of the soul.
You can reach out to trusted funeral service providers like Beleiv that provide end-to-end funeral services for further assistance with the rituals and traditions so you can mourn peacefully being ensured that your deceased loved one will have a dignified and respectful funeral. Contact us