When a loved one passes away, it is believed that the soul is reborn immediately. In fact, it is considered to be a moment of joy, rather than that of sorrow. Therefore, anniversaries are not observed. After the death occurs, cremation is held as soon as possible.
- The body of the loved one is wiped with a damp cloth.
- It is then clothed and placed on a bier.
- The body is dressed with a garland of sandalwood.
- A symbol of Swastik, over which a coconut is kept, is placed next to the coffin. Incense sticks are lit.
- Stavans and Bhajans are recited.
- The family members apply rice and water thrice on the body.
- The forehead, hands and feet of the deceased are smeared with Ghee, sandalwood flakes/powder and camphor.
- Next, it is covered with a shroud.
- Gold is placed in the mouth, and a pearl is placed in the right eye of the deceased.
- The traditions don’t allow wailing in grief.
- The eldest son of the deceased is chosen to be the chief mourner.
- The body is then taken to a place where cremation is done by placing the coffin on a wooden stand and covered with logs of wood, taking care no animals are harmed in the process. Mantras are chanted.
- Before being lit for cremation, the body is sprinkled with ghee, camphor and sandalwood.
The AntimSanskar is done to reunite the soul with the nature. Grieving is not encouraged because the soul doesn’t die. It’s only the physical body that dies. Prayers are made at the funeral so that the decreased loved one gets to unite with God and attain liberation from cycles of birth and death. After the death occurs:
- The body is bathed in yoghurt and dressed in new clothes, with a turban or a scarf covering the hair. If male, the body of the deceased should carry the five karkars: kes (uncut hair), kacchera (an undergarment), kara (iron bracelet), kanga (comb), and kirpan (small sword).
- People close to the deceased can visit and call on the family to pay respects. A garland is worn around the neck of the deceased.
- The casket is kept open usually, for viewing. People who come pay for the soul of the deceased as they pass by.
- The chief mourner of the ceremony can be any family member or close friend.
- The body is carried to a crematorium for cremation. Only the family members can accompany the deceased to the crematorium.
- For ten days from the day of death of the loved one, mourning is observed, and there is a reading of the complete Guru Granth Sahib called SidharanPaath.
- A funeral service is held at a specified place, such as home or gurudwara, where community prayers are chanted.
- The ashes of the deceased after cremation can be buried or let flow in the sea or a river.
A complete reading of Guru Granth Sahib is done over few days along with a special reading of some of the hymns and prayers every day. Some offerings (Prasad) are made and a meal is served to those present. Even if the reading continues for a period of more than ten days, the official mourning period ends in ten days.
Samsara is a concept which is about how the deeds in this incarnation and all the previous incarnations determine how the next re-incarnation will be. The final rites focus on the good deeds and help in begetting purity for the soul of the deceased as well as his/her loved ones. Mourning is observed for an year, during which the mourners wear white clothes, don’t wear any form of jewellery and do not eat beef or pork. The following rituals are observed after the death of a loved one:
- When death occurs, the family members should bathe and clothe the body in normal attire.
- The body is then embalmed (preserved by removing bodily fluids and prevented from decaying using chemical solutions) and kept in a simple casket.
- The body is then kept with the head towards the west.
- A lamp is lit beside, along with an image of the deceased, an image of Lord Buddha, some flowers and fruits.
- The family and friends, or monks may chant some prayers during the viewing. Alternately, pre-recorded chantings can be played.
- Food is prepared outside of the house where the body lies, preferably by close friends and relatives.
- A group of Buddhist monks recite and chant prayers, sutras, while draping the body in six yards of white cloth.
- A ritual involving pouring water into a dish while chanting sutras, is done to cleanse the soul of the deceased.
- The family members carry the body to the hearse, and follow the vehicle in a procession.
- Cremation is preferred to burial, but in case the deceased is young, and the final rites are to be performed by the parents, burial is done.
- A close friend or relative speaks about their deceased loved one at the crematorium.
- After the body of the deceased is removed, milk is boiled at the spot where the body was kept, in order to restore hygiene.
- Six days after the death of the loved one, a Buddhist monk delivers a sermon to the family.
- On the seventh day, meals (often the favourite of the deceased) and gifts are given (as Daan) to Buddhist monks, who are believed to have the souls of the deceased invoked in them. The family and close friends then partake the meals together.
- Daan purifies the mind of the giver and the community, and this purity is also believed to get transferred to the deceased.
- A funeral ceremony is held on 3rd, 7th, 49th or the 100th day after the death occurs.
- Daan is performed twice again: three months after the death, and then one year after the death occurs. This marks the end of the mourning period.