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Malana - Community
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 Funeral Rites


The death rituals practices here are same as the rest of India. The dying person is made to lie on the floor with his head facing the north. The floor is first cleaned by cowdung and a few strands of Khusha grass (sacred grass) are placed on it. It is believed that if the dying person makes some offerings to god, then his soul departs in peace. In the mouth of a dying person, panch ratna composed of gold, silver, diamond, sapphire or pearl is put. If the person belongs to the lower caste, then it consists of honey, Gangajal, cows urine, tulsi leaves and gold.

As soon as the soul departs, an earthen lamp is lit which is kept burning for the next 10 days. After all the relatives and friends have been informed, arthi i.e. bier is prepared. Near relatives bathe the corpse with lukewarm water and cover it with a white cloth. The body is taken to the cremation ground in a procession. The people who hold the bier from the head side are the two near relatives of the deceased. Before the procession starts, a pind (ball of barley flour) is offered to the departed soul. On the half way to the cremation ground, second pind is offered. In the procession, a person keeps on blowing the conch shell at regular intervals and others keep on chanting 'Ram Nam Satya Hai' (True is the name of God).

On reaching the cremation ground, pyre is prepared and the body is placed on it with its head facing the north. The pyre is lit near the head . The priest chants the mantras (sacred verses). When the corpse is half burnt, then the deceased person's son or his near relative performs kapal kriya (ceremonial breaking of the skull of a corpse at cremation). In this he taps the head of the corpse with a long bamboo stick three times and then throws it in the pyre. After this, the mourners return leaving behind the relatives. Ashes are collected on the third day and are disposed of in the nearby river or these ashes are send to Haridwar to be disposed of in the Ganges.

For the next 10 days, pind dan ( i.e. small balls of kneaded barley flour) is offered in the river. On the 10th day, Shuddhi is performed. On this day, the entire house is cleaned and clothes are washed. The lamp is put off and buried deep down. Havan (fire sacrifice) is performed in the house and recitation of Garuda Puran, a legend, which narrates the journey of the soul to the other world, is arranged.

Kriya is performed between 11th day to 17th day from the day of the death. Till the day of kriya, the family members of the deceased do not eat onions, heeng (asafetida), eggs, fish and meat. On this day, havan (fire sacrifice) is performed by the priest and he is given clothes, utensils, ghee and grains by the family. The family gives food to the close relatives and friends and it is known as 'Gati'.

On the first, second and third death anniversary, clothes and some other articles are given to the priest. The fourth anniversary is called 'chaubarkha'. On this day, alms are given to the priest and the relatives and the friends are invited for food.

For rest of the years, shradhs (a ceremony in honor and for the benefit of the deceased relatives) are performed in which the pandits are given food.
 

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