Preparation for the cremation ritual and the funeral procession

Tying a bier

1. Use bamboo sticks for making strips for the bier, as well as for placing the pot containing fire. Once the bier is ready, place it in the front yard in an east-west direction. Once all the rituals that are to be carried out on the deceased inside the house are over, the dead body is brought out and feet laid on the bier with its head facing the east and legs facing the west. The dead body is tied to the bier with the help of coir ropes at the sides of the bier.

2. Tie the big toes of both the legs together.


Funeral procession

1. The karta (The person who performs the rite) should lead the funeral procession. He should hold a pot containing the ignited fire in his right hand.

2. The family members and relatives of the deceased, should lift the bier and start walking behind the karta. Four people should shoulder the bier. Nobody should stand between the karta and the bier. All people in the procession should walk behind the bier.

3. The dead body should be carried with its head in front during the funeral procession.

4. All should chant aloud ‘Sri Gurudev Datta’ till they reach the crematorium.

5. When the funeral is half way through or when it reaches the entrance of the crematorium, the bier is lowered and placed on the ground. The karta then offers two pinḍas of barley/rice flour. Pinḍas are then placed on darbhas (A type of grass used in rituals involving sacrificial fires and rituals for the departed souls such as shraddha) to the right and left side of the dead body. Water mixed with sesame is offered to the pinḍa on the right side through the pitru-tirtha on the palm while reciting the mantra – ‘श्यामाय अयं पिण्ड पतिष्ठत ।’ ~.Thereafter, water mixed with sesame is also offered to the pinḍa on the left side while reciting the mantra ‘शबलाय अयं पिण्ड उपतिष्ठतु । ’.Then, people who had shouldered the rear of the bier exchange their positions with those in the front, the bier is lifted and the funeral procession moves ahead.

Reference : Sanatan’s Holy text ‘Death and Post Death Rites’