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Hindu Death and Funeral Rituals and Traditions

Hindu Death and Funeral Rituals and Traditions

Hindu beliefs include the concept of reincarnation, with an individual’s next form being tied to their karma. Karma is determined by actions in the most recent life as well as past lives. Death is the death of the body, not the soul, and many of the customs around Hindu funerals are to ease the soul’s transition to its next incarnation. Hindu funeral rituals include cremation within 24 hours of death, and keeping the body at home until that time. In some areas outside of the United States, male family members typically carry the body to the funeral home or cremation site. The deceased is usually shrouded and family members and visitors place flowers at their feet.

Things to know:

  • Friends may call on the family at home and bring flowers before the cremation; guests should not bring food
  • Black attire is inappropriate; white or light-colored clothing is expected, and casual attire is fine
  • If there is an open casket, funeral guests are expected to view the body
  • Ten days after cremation, a ceremony is held at the home of the deceased to help their soul ascend; visitors are expected to bring fruit
  • The formal Hindu mourning period lasts from 10 to 30 days from the day of death


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