Like many other eastern religions the Sikhs have a strong belief in the afterlife. As with Buddhists the Sikh religion believes that the reincarnation cycle flows and flows until a oneness with God occurs. In terms of the ceremonies and funerals themselves an important theme is the resignation to the will of the creator and the accepting of death as a natural part of the life cycle. An interesting note about the Sikh approach to death is that they keep the 5 traditional elements which they are required to carry throughout their lives; 1. Kachhera, an undergarment 2. Kanga, a wooden comb. 3. Kara, a steel or iron bracelet. 4. Kes, uncut hair (and beard). 5. Kirpan, a short sword.
What’s different about a Sikh funeral and lead up to the funeral?
Just before death occurs the dying person is encouraged to focus on his or her spiritual belief and life by reciting “Waheguru” (meaning God) or texts from the Guru Granth Sahib (Sikh holy scripture). Once the person dies preparation of the body will take place with it being bathed and clothed in the traditional turban and clothing with the 5 items as noted above. Following on from this preparations will then be made for the cremation (which is the norm) of the body.
Where does a Sikh ceremony take place?
Cremation is the most popular form of dealing with the body in the Sikh religion and additionally the funerals can mainly revolve around this element. An important element of the ceremonies is the acceptance of God’s will. It’s also important to remember that the religious service can vary in location and can be staged anywhere from outdoors to a funeral home and even at home.
What normally happens at a Sikh funeral and what do non observers need to know?
While Sikh ceremonies offer a lot of choice to planners it should be noted that their are very specific prayers and hymns which should be said in almost all places where the religion resides. During the ceremony a number of prayers may be said and be aware that if the ceremony also includes a ritual called “Sadharan Paath” (a kind of religious service) there may also be hymns, readings, food, sweets (sweet foods) and verses from the holy book may also be included. In terms of clothing attendees are ordinarily encouraged to wear subdued colours but this is not usually a strict rule. Flowers are also acceptable.