Do You Take Flowers to a Hindu Funeral?

by Christina Lee

You should not bring flowers to a Hindu funeral. Flowers play a significant role in Hindu funerals but are used much differently from those in Western funerals. Not only is it unnecessary to bring flowers to the service, but you are expected not to bring them. If you do, it may cause an annoyance as the family or funeral director will have to figure out where to put them immediately before the funeral begins.

Significance of Leaves and Flowers at Hindu Funerals

Hindu funerals incorporate Tulsi leaves.

Hindu funerals use Tulsi, often called "Holy Basil," a close relative of the basil and mint family that is indigenous to South Asia. Hindus use it in funerals to confer its health benefits on the dead before the next life begins, and because Hindus believe it is a favorite of Vishnu, a central Hindu deity. Associated with Krishna and other Hindu gods, the lotus is the most important and sacred flower in the faith. Hindus believe it is linked to good health, loveliness and virility. Sometimes family members will place lotus flowers over the body.

The Funeral

Flowers adorn the body in some Hindu funeral services.

Hindu mourners adorn the corpse with flowers and Tulsi leaves prior to the funeral. Families place two or three Tulsi sprigs beneath the deceased person's right ear. Girls and women in the family, meanwhile, place flowers at the foot of the casket, near the feet. After the funeral, when the body is taken to a crematorium, male family members circle the body and may place flowers near the mouth of the deceased.

Sending Flowers to the Bereaved

Send a flower arrangement to the bereaved if you like.

It is not a Hindu custom to send flowers to the grieving family at all. However, Hindus in the West are aware of the Western flower tradition. It is never expected to send flowers, but if you prefer to do so, send them to the family home after the funeral and cremation.

Importance of Proper Etiquette

The Hindu funeral and ceremonies leading up to the cremation of the body are extremely important in Hindu tradition. The time before the body is cremated is considered the last chance family members will get to assist with the soul's transition into another life. Interfering in the traditional service by bringing flowers could not only distract the family in mourning, but also cause harm to the soul of the departed.

About the Author

Christina Lee began writing in 2004. Her co-authored essay is included in the edited volume, "Discipline and Punishment in Global Affairs." Lee holds a Bachelor of Arts in English and politics from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, a Master of Arts in global affairs from American University and a Master of Arts in philosophy from Penn State University.

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