Last Rites

नैनं छिन्दन्ति शस्त्राणि नैनं दहति पावक: |
         न चैनं क्लेदयन्त्यापो न शोषयति मारुत: || BG2.23

   The Self can never be cut into pieces by any weapon, nor can he be burned by fire, nor moistened by water, nor withered by the wind. Bhagavad Gita Chapter 2 Verse 23

HCI recommends the following processes for Hindu last rites in the COVID-19 environment. You likely will not be able to make all the arrangements you would have liked. Please do not feel any guilt or anguish. What matters most is what is in your heart. When the world slowly begins returning to normalcy you will have the opportunity to celebrate and memorialize the wonderful life of your dearly beloved.

Om Shanti!

Key Events Timeline | Hindu Last Rites

Hindu Last Rites | Key Events Timeline v
Note: Timelines May Change Subject to Provider Availability

Hindu Last Rites Process Checklist

Medical & Regulatory Formalities: Clear all medical formalities, specifically death certificate, autopsy report (if applicable), etc.​ (Deceased Essential Information)

Funeral Home & Cremation: Select and finalize the funeral home, including cost, date, time, process, casket selection (open or close), cremation plan and treatment of ashes. Understand how many people can attend in person at cremation and their system of live streaming of rites.​ (Funeral Checklist

Dispersal of Ashes: Establish the plans for dispersal of ashes (local, India or combination). If ashes need to be stored, make arrangements with the funeral home. ​

Priest Selection: Select a priest who meets your requirements of tradition and languages. Finalize date, time, specific rituals, pooja items needed, priest transportation. Also, specify the 13th-day pooja or other dates the family may desire. Note: Generally in the Hindu tradition priests are paid out of respect and goodwill, not as a service provider. However, some temples and priests may have suggested fees.

Obituary: Write a heartfelt obituary and post it in desired newspapers and online, including India.

Gatherings and Virtual Participation: Prepare  lists of invitees and their emails for attendance  in person and online for different gatherings as well as the invitation note​

Cremation: with or without memorial speeches​

The thirteenth day or other such rites ​

Memorial & Celebration of Life: if done later. Book venue and list speakers. (Memorial Checklist)

Bhajan/Kirtan During the Grieving Period: If possible, plan on-line evening bhajans with family & friends group. This can be done each evening leading up to the 13th day, for example.

A Memorial Website: Consider launching a memorial website to memorialize the deceased beloved.  One can post life photos and videos, obituary, letters from family and friends, etc.

Contributions to Charities: Highlight for family and friends the favorite charities or causes of the deceased beloved where charitable contributions can be made.​

Estate Matters: Make sure the matters of wills and trusts of the deceased are managed in a timely manner.​


For Further Free Support, please email or call HCI Volunteer Counselors at (510) 952-7934


This is practical guidance, individual Sampradaya practices may vary. 

HCI has no financial interest in any of the service providers or institutions listed herein.

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