Obituaries This Week

By the grace of God there are no onituaries/funeral services
scheduled for this week.
 
Waheguru mehar kare

 


Funeral & Cremation Services

Sikhs believe in reincarnation and that death is merely the progression of the soul on its journey from God, through the universe, and back to God.
Mourning and grieving is therefore discouraged at Sikh funerals, especially where the person who has died has had a long and full life.

The service includes a great deal of prayer to help the soul to be released from the bonds of reincarnation and to return to God.

Traditionally Sikhs are cremated after death.

Usually, there is a short ceremony at the funeral home before the cremation.

The ceremony at the crematorium may be split into two parts; Saskar, the cremation itself and the Antim Ardas, the final prayer at the end of the funeral ceremony.

After the cremation, there may be another service at the Sikh temple (gurdwara) where it is traditional for the congregation to chant the word 'akal', which means 'undying'.

This is thought to help release the soul on its journey.

The cremation ceremony is performed by the eldest son or a close relative, who will be guided by the Granthi, the name for the Sikh priest.

Approved/typical venues

Crematorium and Gurdwara - the Sikh temple and meeting place.

Length of funeral and other 'rules'

Sikhs are cremated.

There are generally no constraints on location or timing of cremation; this normally depends upon the family’s wishes.

The service at the crematorium can take up to an hour, so the funeral director should be told that he/she will need to book longer slots at the chosen crematorium. This will add to the cost of the funeral.

A close family member will push the button for the coffin to disappear at committal.

After cremation the ashes are disposed of by immersion in the nearest river or sea or deposited in a place of sentimental value.

Sikhs do not erect monuments over the remains of the dead.

Men traditionally wear black headscarves to the funeral and women wear pale coloured or white headscarves.

Donations are often given to charities and religious organisations in memory of the deceased.

The funeral director will give valuable advice based on experience of the community they provide a service to.

Secular readings and music

Although the rules of the Sikh funeral are strictly observed, Sikhs are pragmatic and realise that people’s needs change.

Decisions about the funeral are made by the family, and if the family think that a piece of secular music or a secular reading would be appropriate, the Granthi will take this into account and approve of their inclusion at the funeral home or crematorium.

Details to be agreed with the Granthi and funeral director

  • The time for the bathing and dressing of the deceased;
  • The evening for the visitation and prayers;
  • Who will be the pallbearers?
  • Are there special prayers you would like included?
  • How much are the fees?
  • Should you bring children if they are young?
  • Selection of urn to hold the cremated remains;
  • A time and date for the funeral service at the crematorium;
  • The floral arrangements.

Order of Service

A prayer (Japji) is said before the start of the funeral to seek salvation for the departed soul.

On arrival at the crematorium, a brief speech about the deceased is generally given; the Sohila, or bed-time prayer, is recited; and the Ardas, formal prayer, is offered.

The ceremony at the funeral home and crematorium is generally performed by the eldest son or a close relative.

The Granthi (or Giani Ji) will officiate at the service in the Gurdwara. He will read the hukam from the Siri Guru Granth Sahib (the Sikh book of learning) first in the original Gurmukhi language and then translated into English or the main language of the congregation.

Attendants sit behind the Siri Guru Granth Sahib and frequently wave a long-handled horse hair brush above the Siri Guru Granth Sahib or who take out and put away the Scriptures.

They also serve prasad, or sweet pudding, at the end of the service; read the hukam translation in English; and assist in the Gurdwara in any way. Many people from the sangat, the congregation, participate in these functions.

Kirtanis are musicians who lead the sangat in kirtan, songs of praise to God.

The Gurdwara secretary or Granthi will announce guest speakers and the order of the service.

Nit Nem, or daily prayer book of the Sikhs, is used to recite the prayers before cremation.

Since all prayers are read in Gurmukhi, the original language of the Gurus, it is not expected that guests recite these.

At the end of the reading, relatives and friends of the family will gather together for the Bhog. Salokas of the ninth Guru Tegh Bahadur are read, and Ramkali saad, the call of God, is recited.

After the final prayer, a random reading or Hukam is taken, and Karah Parshad is distributed to the Congregation.

The Guru Granth Sahib is read from beginning to end after a funeral.

Should we have a gathering afterwards?

After the cremation guests return to the family home and readings are given and hymns sung. Neighbours and families make a substantial meal for the bereaved family.

Everyone must bathe as soon as they go home to cleanse themselves. A candle, jot, is burned in the home. This is made from Ghee (clarified butter) and cotton and has a sweet smell. This cleanses the home.

The mourning period lasts between two and five weeks.

Memorial services

Memorial services are often held at the deceased’s family home, especially when the funeral ceremony has taken place in another city or country.

Sometimes, the deceased’s family will sponsor an Akhand Path (an unbroken reading) or other reading of the Siri Guru Granth Sahib. This may take place at their home, at the Gurdwara or elsewhere.

During the Akhand Path service, the entire Siri Guru Granth Sahib is read in 48 hours in the Gurmukhi language or in 72 hours in English. People take turns reading the text.