Thursday, February 9, 2023


▪ Birth ▪ Marriage ▪ Death


When a person is about to die, he is often removed from the cot and put onto the floor, his feet turned towards the north. Before doing so, some people smear the floor with dung paste and spread darab grass over it.  (There is a common belief that a person who dies on his cot becomes a ghost). Thereafter, the ceremony of Deeva Batti is performed. A lamp made

from flour dough is lighted and put near the head or on the right palm and then something is given in charity on his behalf. A cow given away at this time is considered the best form of charity among the Hindus, for it is believed that on his way to the other world, the dead man has to cross a wide river. It is believed that he can do it easily if he holds on to the tail of the 'Vaitarani', that is, the cow given in charity. The cow and other articles or money given in charity are made over to the Brahmins or the family priest. Those who cannot afford to give a cow, give away some food grains and money. 

Among the Hindus when a person is on the death-bed, someone recites verses from the Geeta; the Sikhs offer strength to the departing soul by reading Sukhmani-the psalm of peace.

When actual death takes place, the women of the house sit around the dead person and lament loudly. Men spread a cover in the courtyard and sit silently, while friends, neighbours and relatives come in, to condole. Among some Hindus, the sons and some other male relatives of the deceased have their heads shaved off. The widow of the deceased takes off all her jewellery and if she happens to be young and is still wearing the wedding bangles, these are broken.

 Certain rites are performed before the body of the deceased is taken for cremation. His body is rubbed with curds, washed and wrapped in a shroud. If the deceased happens to be woman and if her husband is alive, some jewellery is put on her body and vermilion applied in the parting of her hair. Her nose-ring is also not removed. A woman who dies thus, is considered lucky and is believed to go to heaven. 

When an old person dies after living a full span of life, his Baban (viman or bier) is made in the shape of a boat decorated with balloons and buntings and strips of golden lace. His funeral procession is often accompanied by bands; conches are blown and gongs are struck. Some coins, dry fruits and other edibles are thrown over the bier. These are collected and kept by the poor and considered very prized possessions. It is believed that a person who keeps such articles as souvenirs or eats them also lives to be as old.

A close relation of the deceased grinds in a grindstone seven grains, viz., wheat, gram, barley, maize, moth, lintels and rice. Some grind only rice, sesame and barley. A Brahmin makes a pind out of this flour to be offered in the name of the dead. Before the bier is lifted to be taken out of the house, the widow, children and daughters-in-law of the deceased touch his feet. Thereafter, flour close relatives lift it on their shoulders and walk towards the cremation ground. The body is always taken out of the house feet first. The Sikhs sing hymns on the way. Relatives of the deceased and mourners help the carriers of the bier and share the burden with them. This is called moda dena (offering the shoulder). This gesture has a great religious significance. If the deceased has a grandson, he follows the bier with a Chauri (whisk), fanning the corpse. On the way to the cremation ground a halt called adhmarg (half way ) is made. Here a pitcher full of water is broken by the eldest son near the corpse's head. The widow and other female relatives of the deceased bow down to the corpse and touch his feet again.