The population of Hindus and Sikhs in the UK is over 800k. Many of the second-generation Indian diaspora are now in the position of having to arrange funerals. They may not be versed in Hindu and Sikh funeral rights, below is brief guide to help those want to respect their relative’s tradition, but do not have a community elder or priest to guide them.
Committal in the cremator
Open air cremation is not allowed in the UK and families often ask if they can witness the committal into the cremator. You should speak to your funeral in advance if this is something you want to do. Many crematoria allow this and in certain areas are very used to this – but it is wise to check and forewarn.
Collection of the ashes
The ashes which are called asthī (bones of the deceased) can only be collected by the person who signed the paperwork with the funeral director.
You are sometime able to collect on the day of cremation, however more usually this is allowable within the next working day. It is auspicious to collect them either on the day of cremation or on the 3rd, 7th or 9th day.
Many families take them directly from the funeral directors to the place of immersion and do not take them home.
Where do the ashes need to go after collection?
The ashes need to go into running water (the sea is permissible). This is to allow the spirit a smoother tradition to the next life. The most auspicious place in India are: Kashi (Varanasi), Haridwar, Prayagraj (Formerly known as Allahabad), Sri Rangam, Brahmaputra on the occasion of Ashokastami and Rameswaram.
This may not be possible or desirable. The rivers, lakes and coast of the UK can be used. You can find a safe spot on the bankside or shore or you can use a boat – Here is a map of boats around the UK & ROI that we have access to.
When should the ashes go into the water?
The immersion should be performed prior to noon time if possible. Perform immersion on 2nd, 3rd, 5th, 7th or 9th, but not on Friday.
How should the ashes be placed into the water?
The ashes can either be poured directly into the water.
The Association of United Hindu and Jain Temples guidance note on funerals recommends the use of a container that dissolves in within 4 hours. The pour milk and Ganga Jal (water from the Ganges) into the container. And place the ashes, urn, water and milk into the water.
We can offer the following:
- Hindu Water Urn
- Sikh Water Urn
- Hindu Ceremony Set
- Sikh Ceremony Set
- Deluxe Hindu Ceremony Set
- Deluxe Sikh Ceremony Set
While immersing, chant the name “Naarayana….Naarayana…. Naarayana”.
Post ashes immersion
Those who performed the immersion should shower.
Note: We have gone to some trouble in preparing this note, using a number of sources including the references below. However, if we have misinterpreted anything please accept our apologies. I would be appreciated if you could let us know of discrepancies, variations or anomalies that other families should be aware of.