Rituals Followed After the Cremation of a Sikh

Discussion in 'Interfaith Dialogues' started by jasbirkaleka, Oct 30, 2009.


  1. jasbirkaleka

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    Please will someone enlighten me about the rituals and ceremonies to be followed upon the death of a Sikh.I find it very confusing and absurd that Ardas is performed 4-5 times within the time span of a few hrs, Is the ALMIGHTY too old or deaf or has a very short memory that HE has to be reminded again and again that a certain person has died, and a granthi has to request HIM to take to take the dead person to heaven. And more importantly, is it not the WAHEGURU who has decided to call the Sikh to serve him to heaven,so are we trying to inform the ALL-KNOWING ,without whose knowledge even a leaf cannot flutter, what has happened on earth and what he should do with the dead Sikh"s Atma. Then there is this ritual of hammering four wooden pegs and four iron nails around the ashes of the dead person and a kachaa dhaga wow woven around the ashes.Offerings of puries and mithai are also made They also place some coins in the sack carrying the arthies,so as to make this Sikh"s journey to heaven easier and hassle-free.Many Sikhs carry the arthies to Hardwar to be immersed in Ganga. Is this all done according to the Sikh Rehat Mariada?:confused:
     
  2. spnadmin

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    jasbirkaleka ji

    My hunch...you are on the right track...although the specific practices you mention are not included in SRM, superstitious practices are forbidden

    Here is what it says about "rituals" (probably those popular at the time the SRM) was written,

    d. ...."pind (offering of funeral barley cakes to the deceased’s relatives), patal (ritual donation of food in the belief that that would satisfy the hunger of the departed soul), diva (the ceremony of keeping an oil lamp lit for 360 days after the death, in the belief that that lights the path of the deceased), ritual funeral acts, hom (lighting of ritual fire and pouring intermittently clarified butter, food grains etc. into it for propitiating gods for the fulfillment of a purpose) jag (religious ceremony involving presentation of oblations), tarpan (libation), sikha-sut (keeping a tuft of hair on the head and wearing thread), bhadan (shaving of head on the death of a parent),... veneration of any graves, of monuments erected to honour the memory of a deceased person or of cremation sites, idolatry and such like superstitious observances.

    Note: [Most, though not all rituals and ritual or religious observances listed in this clause are Hindu rituals and observances. The reason is that the old rituals and practices, continued to be observed by large numbers of Sikhs even after their conversion from their old to the new faith and a large bulk of the Sikh novices were Hindu converts. Another reason for this phenomenon was the strangle-hold of the Brahmin priest on Hindus secular and religious life which the Brahmin priest managed to maintain even on those leaving the Hindu religious fold, by his astute mental dexterity and rare capacity for compromise. That the Sikh novitiates include a sizable number of Muslims is shown by inclusion in this clause of the taboos as to the sanctity of graves, shirni, etc.]

    Gyani will be the one who can help most with your question.

    In the next post - you will see that Ardas is offered several times before during and after the cremation. But the other things you mention -- I wonder myself. The SRM says NO to "
    kirya (concluding the funeral proceedings ritualistically,..."
     
    Hardip Singh likes this.
  3. spnadmin

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    Specifically about the funeral ceremonies this is what SRM says,

    Article XIX - Funeral Ceremonies
    a. The body of a dying or dead person, if it is on a cot, must not be taken off the cot and put on the floor. Nor must a lit lamp be placed beside, or a cow got bestowed in donation by, him/her or for his/her good or any other ceremony, contrary to Guru’s way, performed. Only Gurbani should be recited or “Waheguru, Waheguru” repeated by his/her side.

    b. When some one shuffles the mortal coil, the survivors must not grieve or raise a hue and cry or indulge in breast beating. To induce a mood of resignation to God’s will, it is desirable to recite Gurbani or repeat “Waheguru”.

    c. However young and deceased may be, the body should be cremated. However, where arrangements for cremation cannot be made, there should be no qualm about the body being immersed in flowing water or disposed of in any other manner.

    d. As to the time of cremation, no consideration as to whether it should take place during day or night should weigh.

    e. The dead body should be bathed and clothed in clean clothes. While that is done, the Sikh symbols - comb, kachha, karha, kirpan - should not be taken off. Thereafter, putting the body on a plank, Ardas about its being taken away for disposal be offered. The hearse should then be lifted and taken to the cremation ground; hymns that induce feeling of detachment should be recited. On reaching the cremation ground, the pyre should be laid. Then the Ardas for consigning the body to fire be offered. The dead body should then be placed on the pyre and the son or any other relation or friend of the deceased should set fire to it. The accompanying congregation should sit at a reasonable distance and listen to kirtan or carry on collective singing of hymns or recitation of detachment-inducing hymns. When the pyre is fully aflame, the Kirtan Sohila (prescribed pre-retirement night Scriptural prayer) should be recited and the Ardas offered. (Piercing the Skull half and hour or so after the pyre has been burning with a rod or something else in the belief that that will secure the release of the soul - kapal kriya - is contrary to the Guru’s tenets). The congregation should then leave.
    Coming back home, a reading of the Guru Granth Sahib should be commenced at home or in a nearby gurdwara, and after reciting the six stanzas of the Anand Sahib, the Ardas, offered and karhah prashad (sacred pudding) distributed. The reading of the Guru Granth Sahib should be completed on the tenth day. If the reading cannot, or is sought not to, be completed on the tenth day, some other day may be appointed for the conclusion of the reading having regard to the convenience of the relatives. The reading of the Guru Granth Sahib should be carried out by the members of the household of the deceased and relatives in cooperation. If possible, Kirtan may be held every night. No funeral ceremony remains to be performed after the “tenth day”.

    f. When the pyre is burnt out, the whole bulk of the ashes, including the burnt bones should be gathered up and immersed in flowing water or buried at that very place and the ground leveled. Raising a monument to the memory of the deceased at the place where his dead body is cremated is taboo.

    g. Adh marg (the ceremony of breaking the pot used for bathing the dead body amid doleful cries half way towards the cremation ground), organized lamentation by women, foorhi (sitting on a straw mat in mourning for a certain period), diva (keeping an oil lamp lit for 360 days after the death in the belief that that will light the path of the deceased), pind (ritual donating of lumps of rice flour, oat flour, or solidified milk (khoa) for ten days after death), kirya (concluding the funeral proceedings ritualistically, serving meals and making offerings by way of shradh, budha marna (waving of whisk, over the hearse of an old person’s dead body and decorating the hearse with festoons), etc. are contrary to the approved code. So too is the picking of the burnt bones from the ashes of the pyre for immersing in the Ganga, at Patalpuri (at Kiratpur), at Kartarpur Sahib or at any other such place.
     
  4. Gyani Jarnail Singh

    Gyani Jarnail Singh Sawa lakh se EK larraoan
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    The SRM is quite clear and precise. No superstitious beleifs/rituals allowed. Some of these mentioned..driving nails/tying thread around the pyre..etc are based on superstition that the DEAD persons GHOST/EVIL SPIRIT be "confined"..nailed down..and stopped from escaping...and haunting the alive ones :D:D....others take out a "partially burnt bone and secretly bury it or remove it...THIS is to PREVENT Black magic Practitioners from "reassembling a ZOMBIE and making the dead spirit serve them as a SLAVE for eternity:D:D:D..the "missing" bone fragment supposedly makes such a zombie creation impossible...so IF you want your dead one to be FREE and Independent..take this "precaution":D:D:D:inca:..so essentially Soem are deathly afraid their dead relative will rise up and follow them back..others are deathly afraid a family ENEMY will make their dead relation a SLAVE and work him/her !!! - so there you are..the Brahmin has a SOLUTION for BOTH types ...:D:D:D
    Once a funny thing happened. In Malaysia its the common practise (sheer Laziness coupled with the desire to fulfill the superstitious ritual)..is to place the "bone" in a small tin and hide it in the cremation grounds itself and mark the place so its easily recovered..in one case the buryer forgot to mix back the bone and only remembered when its all over and a new dead body was burning on the pyre..he threw the bone in to the new pyre as he didnt knwo what to do with it...so probably his dead father may be a Zombie somewhere but with a "donated" bone fragment somewhere in his body !! He came to me with his sad story..hoping for some Paath/shabd to get him out of his misery..BUT i BURST OUT LAUGHING so badly...despite all my self control and trying to be serious..i just couldnt stop laughing..had a glass of water and cooled off...One mischievious part of me had the urge to tell him..YA..I know your dad is a zombie..and its all your fault...now he will be a slave for eternity because you FORGOT/were Lazy...:rofl!!:..but my better half got control of me....:rofl!!::rofl!!:
    The PROBLEM is at such times..IF the FAMILY is NOT TOUGH and Brooks no NONSENSE..some bOF (Bl***y old fool) will push ahead and demand that This be doen..that be done..why wasnt this done..etc etc and scare the family into performing the ritual/superstitious actions..EDUCATION is the KEY. The SRM is clear and precise. Follow it.

    2. The ARDASS.....Frankly speaking a SIKH can NEVER have "enough" ardass done...the LIFE of a SIKH is one continous ARDASS..because we cannot be tired of THANKING HIM !!
    I see the logic. Once an "Ardass" has been done..this is a sort of PSYCHOLOGICAL LINE that has been passed...Just notice How DIFFICULT it is to GET the Dead Body MOVING on its Way....there will always be just that ONE MORE TIME..last HUG..last Glimpse of the Face..One last this and one last that....IF one is not STRICT..the Body will NEVER get Moving !! So First Ardass calms everyone down..and the body is loaded on the hearse and its sent on its way... SECOND ARDASS will get the FIRE BURNING....and calm everyone down for a Paath/shabad singing...IF NOT..there will be an endless line of crying relatives..still trying to get a last hug..last glimpse..and the logs will never get loaded..or set on fire...
    SO the ARDASSES are NOT for "WAHEGURU"..per se..they are ALL for the CRYING/SCREAMING LIVING persons...gathered around..who cannot reconcile their LOSS...the ARDASS..the Sohila Paath..the Shabads..the Paath of SGGS..the Jordmela..the Bhog..etc etc are ALL for US..those who remain BEHIND. These are an attempt to Calm us down, BRING the REALITY of DEATH in perspective..make us PREPARE for our OWN..a sort of..ASK not for whom the Bells toll.....they TOLL FOR THEE !!
     
  5. Sikh royalist

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    i cannot remember any such act being done with the elders of my family

    gyani ji,
    there is a question i would like to ask, i have heard that jats have different cremation sites in the villages of Punjab is it because they have some other rituals to be performed? i hope i will get a sensible answer I'm shocked how we as humans try to prove our supremacy even at the stage of death isn't that foolish.
     
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