In Hinduism when a person dies he is said to be free of all the moh maya. We the Hindus prefer cremation along with many rituals than just burying the body. Since ages it is believed that after death people attain Samsara, i.e. Salvation. Hence, the rituals to be followed after death are considered to be extremely important.
Vedic Rituals after death are as followed.
- Pind sammelan
Antyeṣṭi is a Sanskrit word where antya means “Last” and iṣṭi means “Sacrifice”. It refers to the funeral rites for the dead. It is mostly known as “Antima Sanskar”. The procedure of antima sanskar solely depends on region, gender, caste and age of the dead.
Reason to perform Antyesti
Everyone knows that a living being has a soul and a body. The person is declared dead when the soul leaves the body. The body is said to be composed of 5 elements according to Gita – air, water, fire, earth and space. This ritual of antima sanskar is performed so that the body returns to its origin that is the five elements. The hymns are noted down in the RigVeda.
How is it performed?
This act of antima sanskar is completed within a day of the death of the person. At first the body of the dead is washed properly and then he or she is wrapped in white cloth (if the dead is a man or widow) and red cloth (if the woman’s husband is still alive), the feet are tied together with a string and then tilak is placed on the forehead. The body is then carried to a place near the river or any water body called the samashan ghat and in the presence of family and friends he or she vanishes into the flame.
The cremation rites are performed by the person’s eldest son, or the closest male member or the priest. The person who leads all the rituals first takes bath, then circumblates the body with dry wood, recites hymns, places sesame seeds and rice in the bodies mouth and then sprinkles the body and surroundings with ghee. He draws three lines depicting Yama, Kala and the dead. An earthen pot is filled with water which the lead person carries in his shoulders and circumblates around the dead body. He then drops the pot near the head of the body. The body is then set on fire and in between a ritual is followed known as kapala kriya where the burning skull is pierced with a bamboo fire poker to make a hole. This is done to give space for the soul to release itself. After the ritual all the people present there take bath in the river to wash off all the remnants. At some places the male members shave their heads and face as well. The cold ash is then collected in a copper or earthen vessel and consecrated in the holy river.
This is a ritual followed after the holy cremation of the body. It is believed that the soul can depart for heaven after performing Nirvapanjali. In this ritual the dry ash of the body which was collected after cremation and stored in a vessel is taken to a holy water body and consecrated there by the close relatives. This is said to have its origin from the incident where king Bhagiratha performed a tapasya to bring down the river Ganges upon earth, so that he could immerse the ashes of sixty thousand of his slain ancestors in her sacred waters.
Pind Sammelan is also known as Spindi. This is a ritual which is followed on the 13th day after the death of a person. People believe that when a spirit departs from the body it at first gets negative in order to fulfil the wishes he could not when he was alive. After this ritual the soul is said to be cured from all the dissatisfactions and hence freed from the earthly happiness. Finally the soul attains salvation.
This is considered to be a ritual to show your affection to the departed soul and pray for their peace. In this act the closest relatives make a sacred offering to God so that the soul may enter Swarga. Tarpana is also referred as Arghya where an offering is made to all the 5 devtas and Navagrahas. Some perform Tarpana by using water and Sesame seeds during Pitru Paksha which is known as Tilatarpana.
How did Tarpana ritual start?
This ritual has its origin from the story, ‘The great Parsurama offered tarpana to his father Jamadagni with the blood of his father’s killer’.
How is it done?
Usually tilatarpana is done by the male members of the family to their ancestors. This offering is started at the completion of one year of the death of the person. Day like annual sharddhas, new moon days, sankramanas, and eclipses are also taken into consideration for Tarpana. It is also made while visiting pilgrimages or holy places.
At first a sacred thread known as Yagnopavita is to be worn on the right shoulder and a sacred ring made of grass is worn on the ring finger of the right hand and horizontally in the left fingers. Then we must take care of the posture of our hands. This varies according the Devas, sages and ancestors you are making offerings.
- For Devas – the offering is allowed to flow down the four fingers of the right hand other than the thumb.
- For Sages – the offering is allowed to flow from the left side of the right palm between the wrist and the little finger.
- For the forefathers – the offering is allowed to flow over the right side of the right palm and the thumb of the right hand.
Reasons for offering Tarpana
It is believed that the ancestors eagerly wait for offerings from their descendants on such occasions. If the offerings are not given then they tend to get disappointed and hence the descendants are not able to receive the blessings.