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Religion 101: The Final Hindu Funeral Rites

(The end of the road, last rites for the Hindus. Image source:

Last week, I attended a funeral of a close relative who had passed away rather tragically…

The relative was my elder cousin (related to my father’s side), still young, married and had everything going for him. But fate had it that he will not live long enough to see his kids grow up into adults. Sad!

My dad, being a close relative to the relative, was at the deceased house since Thursday with me being “his driver” to drive him to and back from my house for some sleep and bath. The funeral was slated on a Saturday which made easier to many to attend it.

The scene was sorrowful with many recalling the good times that they had with the deceased and how it was a tragic for the relative to die so young, unexpectedly. Many relatives and friends from far and near made it to the deceased’s house and accompanied the deceased’s family during their most trying moments. Others were busy with other needful things – the preparation for the funeral, informing other relatives and also preparing the food for those who have come to the house and been there for last few days.

We managed to see some of the “lost” relatives and friends and catch up on lost times – my dad even managed to catch up on an old neighbor, last met when he was still a teenager.

The body was cremated on Saturday – leaving behind a trail of sadness, regret and uncertainties.

It was not the first time I had someone passing away tragically. Couple years ago, my aunty and my uncle died in an accident (some years apart). When my aunty was involved in an accident, we rushed to the hospital where she was taken for an urgent surgery.

Except for a few, rest of the family members including her mother (my grandmother) stood in hope of her surviving the accident. After 2 hours of surgery, the word got out that the doctors despite their best efforts could not save her.

That is when my grandma held me and started to cry. I will never forget that day – my grandmother has been an “iron” lady for most of her life and was able to take bad news rather strongly but this bad news broke her. Everyone could not believe that my aunty was gone forever. Her 2 young children kept asking for her but no one could answer them.

It took sometime for us to recover from her sudden death but just when we were almost got used to the fact, my uncle was involved with an accident and he passed away on the spot.

It was tragic no one had prepared for – many had braced themselves for another round of sorrow and regret. It is said that our time of death has been written on the day we are born and that in Hinduism, death is nothing but another phase of the soul’s journey (karma) but when reality hits us, there is nothing but sadness & lost our love ones.

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2 thoughts on “Religion 101: The Final Hindu Funeral Rites”

  1. Bala,
    I’m sorry to hear of the passing of your cousin. My deepest and sincere condolence to you and your family. Having lost my Dad and other relatives during my growing life, I know how it feels.

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