LAST RITES OF HINDUS:
(അന്ത്യേഷ്ടി അഥവാ അന്തിമോപചാര കര്‍മ്മം)
(Simplified for those, especially Malayalees, abroad)
“ അബ്ദ ദീക്ഷാദി ലോപേന പ്രേതാ യാതാ പിശാചതാം,
സ്വജനാല്‍ ബാധമാനാസ്തെ ചരന്തീതി ഖലു സ്മൃതി ”
It means , if we do not observe obsequies, it is supposed that the soul of the dead will not be eligible for Moksha and also it will wander to enter into the body of any one closely related to it and will obsess that person. Whether it is true or false, we are expected to do the rituals as a mark of our love and respect to the dead one, not of fear of the dead, also since it it is being done from time immemorial. These Rites enable the soul of the dead to transit successfully from the stage of ‘Preta’ to that of ‘Pitru’, which is eventually supposed to be merged into ‘Devamsa’, in due course, provided we do the obsequies properly. At the death bed itself, keeping the body clean, it is nice if possible we give drops of ‘Ganga water’, if the person drinks the same. “Basil (Tulasi) water’, can be used as substitute.
The following things, as far as possible, may be collected for the procedure of the funeral, especially involving cremation:
ഗംഗാ ജലം, തുളസിഇല, അരി, ചന്ദനത്തിരി, രാമച്ചം , അകില്‍, ദര്‍ഭ, പ്ലാശ്, അശ്വത്ഥം
മണ്‍കുടം, മൂടിയുള്ള കലശം, വെട്ടുകത്തി, കിണ്ടിയും വെള്ളവും, ചുവന്ന പട്ടു്,
നിലവിളക്ക്, എണ്ണ, തിരി , കൊള്ളി.(small dried twigs).
അസ്ഥി സഞ്ചയനത്തിന്:
തോര്‍ത്ത്‌, പാല്, തൈര്, പനിനീര്, ഗോമൂത്രം , ഉതിര് പൂവ്, പൂമാല, സ്വര്ണ്ണം
In case there was no medical assistance, immediately after the death, family members can close the mouth and eyes of the deceased, and put the arms straight. The body is cleaned and usually placed on the floor with the feet pointing towards the South which is supposed to be the direction of the dead. The right and left toes are tied together. (This should be untied just before cremation). An oil lamp is lit and placed at the head portion on the North. Most often the body is bathed by purified water, and then dressed in new clothes. Sandalwood paste is applied on the forehead. A new Cloth (Kodi Vasthram) may be put on the body from the family. Garlands, wreaths and flowers can be placed on the body. Ladies and Children, after cleaning their bodies, usually put wet rice and basil leaves at the mouth of the dead, before taking the body to cemetery or crematorium. All the others who are bound to offer the same, do it at the crematorium floor. The body is then taken to the crematorium or cemetery.
The rightful person authorized to do the Karma, bathed and in wet cloth, puts as the last, wet rice and basil leaves at the mouth of the dead. He then carries the pot of water three times circum ambulating the body, while one lightly hits and breaks the sides of the water pot with the big knife(വെട്ടുകത്തി).and on completing three rounds the pot is dropped out at the feet of the dead. A small piece each from the cloths put on the dead body, may be torn out and kept. രാമച്ചം, അകില്‍, പ്ലാശ്, അശ്വത്ഥം, ദര്‍ഭ, all those things may be placed on and around the body, before burial or cremation. It may be set on fire or buried, as the case may be. All may bathe thereafter.
If the body is cremated, ashes may be collected in the ‘Kalasham’, bought for the purpose, after neatly cleaning it with enough water, milk, curd, rose water, cow-urine, using the towel. The Kalasham may be wrapped in the piece of cloth taken from the dead body and the Kalsham may be decorated and taken with due respect, accompanied by lamp and lighted bathi to any punya river or sea, and immersed therein, with deep prayers for the rest of the soul and liberation. He may bathe thereafter. It is nice he does the ‘bali’ for 16 days, if possible. Thereafter, ‘Aandu bali’ or ‘Sradham’ may be done yearly, preferably on the ‘Thithi’, on which the person deceased. If it is convenient, after the first year, a ‘Kshethra Pind bali’, a ‘Thila Homam’ and a ‘Sayoojya Pooja’ may be done in any good temple, doing such poojas. One may get enough ‘Pitr-preethi’, because of these sat-karmas.
‘Subham’