ANTYESHTI SANSKAR / DEATH RITUAL
Antyeshti is a combination of two Sanskrit words, Antya – which means last and Isti – meaning sacrifice. Antyeshti can be defined as the last sacrifice. Another phrase that is often used for the death ritual is Antim Sanskar, which means the last sacred rite.
Ideally the rituals associated with death are completed on the day of the death itself. The rituals may vary according to the sect and the region, but as with all other rituals in Hinduism the core essentially remains Vedic with Mantras being chanted from Vedic texts. If the deceased is a male or a widow the body is washed and wrapped in a clean white cloth. If it is the body of a woman whose husband is alive, then the body is wrapped in a red cloth with full bridal finery. The big toes are tied together with a string and a Tilak is applied on the forehead. The body is then placed on a mat and the family members, relatives, friends and neighbours pay their last respect to the departed soul. Passages from Bhagwat Gita or the Garud Puran are recited to help the soul on its journey to Pitrulok. The body is then carried to the cremation ground by family and friends. The body is placed on the funeral pyre with its feet facing south.
The eldest son or in the absence of a son a male blood relative takes a bath before the cremation rites begin. He then goes around the pyre while the Pandit keeps chanting Mantras. The son then anoints the body and the wood pyre with ghee and after that, he draws three lines on the funeral ground. The lines symbolize Yama (God of death), Kaal (God of time and cremation), and the Dead person. After this, the son carries an earthen pot filled with water on his shoulder. The Pundit makes a hole in the pot while the son is going around the funeral pyre five times and the water flows out slowly. After the fifth round is complete the son lobs the pot and it shatters on the ground. Then the funeral pyre is lit by a son, now the other relatives and friends go around the burning pyre. The death ritual is concluded with the Kapaal Kriya, the burning skull is pierced with bamboo to make a hole or break it to release the soul. It is a ritual performed either by the son or the Dom (keeper of the cremation ground) depending on the sect and the region.
People Those who attend the cremation are exposed to the dead body and smoke from the funeral pyre and are advised to have a Shuddhi Snan (cleansing bath) at the earliest. As the cremation ritual is considered to be an Asuddh Kriya (a polluting or unclean ritual). The ash for consecration is collected after the funeral fire cools down on the same day or the next day. The collected ash is later consigned in holy rivers, in holy places like Kashi, Haridwar, etc., or in the sea.
Description: Pinda Sthapan (5), Agni Sanskaar, Ashti collection (same day or the next day).
Number of Pundit/s: 1.
Duration: 1 Day.