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Antyestikriya


Antyestikriya Funeral rites observed by the Hindu community. At present it means particularly the rites attending cremation. Before the cremation ceremony, the dead body is anointed with ghee and then bathed. Seven pieces of gold or bell metal are placed on the ears, nose, eyes and mouth. An oblation (pinda) is offered to the departed soul. The dead body is then placed on the pyre. Normally the eldest son performs the rites. Otherwise any other son, daughter or close relative may perform the last rites by going round the pyre three times and igniting it.

After the body has been burned to ashes, the fire is doused with water. The unburned bones and ashes are collected in an earthen pot and cast into water. The person who has cast away the ashes then takes a ritual, cleansing dip in the river. Before entering the house, mourners chew neem (margosa) leaves, and touch fire, iron, split pea grains etc. at the entrance. These rules are being relaxed nowadays. The bodies of monks, hermits, babies, and those who have died of snakebite, are not burned but floated in water. [Anjalika Mukhopadhyay]