‘As per the scriptures it is necessary to perform the rite of cremation amidst recitation of mantras after the death of an individual. Due to the Corona pandemic, numerous deaths are occurring worldwide today. In such situation, the Government has imposed certain restrictions to curb the spread of Corona infection. In accordance with that, the relatives are not handed over the dead bodies of Corona victims and are also not allowed to perform the last rites. Hence during this period of crisis there is a confusion in society on how to perform funeral rites for the deceased. Given further are some options appropriate to calamitous times which can be adopted.
Cremating the deceased
1. Cremation rites of a person whose death has occurred due to Corona infection, cannot be performed amidst recitation of mantras. Sometimes as the bodies are incinerated in the electric crematorium the last rites cannot be performed. In such a situation, relatives should attempt to collect the ashes of the deceased and perform last rites on them on the 9th or 10th day after the death. After this, the other rituals such as dashakriya vidhi should be performed as usual.
2. If the ashes of the deceased relative are collected but no priest is available to perform the rites, then the relative should immerse the ashes in water amidst chanting of ‘Shri Gurudev Datta’.
3. If all the close relatives of the deceased are unable to attend the last rites due to various reasons such as being affected by Corona, being in quarantine, living far away, unable to travel due to lockdown restrictions etc., then the above rites cannot be performed. In such situation, the relative who is in proximity of the deceased should immerse the ashes and the Palash Vidhi should be performed when all relatives are available.
-Purohit Pathashala, Sanatan ashram, Ramnathi, Goa
For details on the Palash vidhi refer https://www.sanatan.org/en/a/110440.html
Chanting to be performed to help the soul
of the deceased individual to attain a good momentum after death
In the upcoming calamitous times, there is no surety of availability of priests to perform religious rites for the deceased. Also, there would be uncertainties around cremation of dead body in fire, possibility of obtaining the ashes etc. Therefore to help the deceased person’s soul attain a good momentum after death all the family members should perform chanting as given further.
A. As per the scriptures, photographs of the deceased should not be kept in the house. If present, they should be immersed in water. If the family members are not prepared for this, then the photographs of the deceased should be tied to a picture of Dattguru or a Namestrip of a Deity. This helps the subtle body of the deceased to receive sattvikta from the picture of the Deity. If after some time either the photograph of the deceased individual or picture of Dattaguru gets disfigured, then it should be immersed in water.
B. For 14 days from the day of death of an individual, his family members should chant 9 malas of ‘Shri Gurudev Datta’ daily facing a picture of Shri Dattatreya or Shrivishnu. If this is not possible then one should chant facing the picture of their Guru.
As the family members of the deceased must observe seclusion they should neither perform ritualistic worship of their Deity of worship nor offer flowers to It during this period.
C. Even if no picture of Deity is available, the relatives of the deceased should sit down and chant. They should pray with spiritual emotion, ‘May the soul of the deceased attain good momentum after death, may his attachment for relatives be overcome and may the journey of his subtle body be smooth’. At noon plain rice or rice mixed with curd should be kept outside the house or in the balcony for the deceased person.
D. On the tithi (Date as per Hindu lunar calendar) of the individual’s death, every month all family members should chant 9 malas of ‘Shri Gurudev Datta’ e.g. If the individual has died on the fifth day of the dark fortnight of the Hindu lunar month of Chaitra (Chaitra krushna panchami) then on krushna panchami in the months of Vaishakh, Jyestha etc. chanting should be done for a year till the Chaitra krushna panchami of the next year.’