Monday, September 2, 2013

Hindu Burial

Late last week one of the elderly ladies in our branch passed away.  She had been sick for some time and was in the hospital when she died.  She and her adult son were the only members of the Church in her family.  We had been told the night she died that the family was going to buy a plot of land and have a typical christian burial.  So we gathered the next morning with many other church members to go up to her home and pay respects to her family, and then make arrangements for a funeral service.  While we were walking up, a large group of people were coming down, with her body on a stretcher covered with colorful cloth and flowers on the shoulders of 6 men.  People followed behind throwing flowers and 1 rupee coins over her body.  Some of the church members told us that during the night, her brother and sister had decided to have a traditional Hindu cremation (or burning as they call it).  We followed them, not knowing where they were going.  We walked through some pretty busy streets for about 2 miles.  When we finally arrived, we had sweat through our clothes and had no water to drink.  We found some shade and waited for about 30 minutes.  They laid her on an alter-type structure, did some prayers around her and then took her to an open cremation area where they took off all the coverings, except a sheet did some additional rituals and then covered her with wood and started it on fire.  We did not stay, but understand that someone stays with the body to be sure that it is completed consumed.  Some days later, the husband and son will shave their head, spread mud mixed with her ashes on their heads and then spread her remaining ashes in the Yamuna River, which is considered a holy river.

I felt a little uncomfortable taking pictures, but I took these with my iPhone two behind the crowd of people.

Family and friends said prayers at the
foot of the body

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