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Below are exerpts:
Death is not something to be fearful about; it should be something for which we must prepare and understand that it is a process of life. This statement is common knowledge to all and should not need any explanation.
At or near the time of death what should be done?
Ø Careful planning is always recommended. Among other things, pay attention to the disposal and apportionment of family estate.
Dying in the Home:
Ø If the person is unconscious when he passes, a family member whispers mantras in the person's right ear. The body is laid with the head toward the south, signifying a return to Mother Earth.
· This could be a problem for someone who lives in a high-rise apparent or condominium.
· Some condominiums may have by-laws against allowing death by choice at home.
· Families should perform due diligence because in some jurisdiction a death in a home can be viewed as a negative stigma attached to the property. There are court cases where real-estate agents and sellers were sued for not disclosing this pertinent information to the buyer. In the course of final planning the family may want to check with their family lawyer on these and other issues.
Ø If the person must die at home and cannot be placed on the ground (into the arms of Mother Earth), then lying on a mat made out of grass is a good substitute.
Ø In the absence of natural material like grass mats, clean linen should be prepared appropriately for the occasion.
Ø The dying should be given small tulsi leaves via the mouth with drops of Ganga Jal to sip. Upon death a small piece of gold or precious metal is placed on the lip of the deceased. This is significant of the earthly material which constitutes the physical body which will be returned to the earth. Be mindful that you would not want a live person to swallow it by accident.
Ø Tulsi leaves should also be placed in the nostril and ears. This prevents the subtle putrefying gases from spreading into the environment through the ears and nose.
Ø Tie the left and right toes or feet together. This helps in conjoining of the right and left energy channels, leading to movement of the waves from the body in a circular manner within the body itself.
Ø There should be no screaming or wailing. Chanting of various scriptures as per capacity is recommended.
Ø If it is necessary, sindur of the surviving wife should be removed at the time of death, or shortly after. To wait until the funeral day to do this is wrong.
Ø Notify the authorities immediately including your family priest.
Ø Prepare an area in the home for mourning and guests.
Ø Light a single diya and a single agarbati. This is because of the singularity of the soul. Place them in the southern direction.
Ø One cannot over pray, but one can over pay.
Ø The time of death is the reference for the timing of all things pertaining to the performance of Shraad, not the time of the funeral or when it is convenient for anybody’s schedule.
What to do at the funeral parlor.
Ø Surviving wives should be dressed in simple white garments with their hair combed simply.
Ø Surviving husbands should be dressed in simple Indian outfit to signify their role as an ascetic who is ready to petition God.
Ø Surviving children and siblings should all dress and behave in simple and humble way. The funeral parlor is not a place to impress anyone or to make a fashion statement.
Ø Family members should bind together in a united front and respectfully show the community that they appreciate the shearing of their loss.
Ø While it is true that many relatives and friends may use the viewing as an opportunity to rekindle old quaintness, the funeral parlor is a place to be used for the support of the briefed family. Be respectful to the occasion and do not subscribe to indiscipline:-keep the noise level down and follow the advice of the funeral director or the officiating priest.
Ø It is recommended that the body should be facing southwards. Many funeral parlors may not be so designed although a friendly discussion with the parlor’s director might serve well to accommodate. In North America many Hindu oriented funeral parlors are being built with this requirement in mind.
Ø Plan your program and write it on a notepad as a working schedule, then follow it.
Ø Keep speeches short and sweet. Chant hari naam sankirtan as much as possible. If reading of the scriptures is mandated do not select topics which will emotionalize the situation anymore than it already is.
Ø Chant Shiva Astakam
Ø If the last right is to be performed at the parlor or at the chapel as the case may be, request from the officiating priest a detail list (sample included in this book), write it down then follow it meticulously: it will save time and frustration. Have a helper to double-check and or supervise the program, this will reduce stress.
Ø Be careful with live diyas as they could easily ignite dry roses and linens.
Ø DO NOT PUT BOTTLE OF PERFUMES OR AERO SPRAY PERFUME OF ANY KIND IN THE CASKET.
Ø When viewing the diseased in the casket, follow this procedure:-start form the back of the congregation and work towards the front. The congregation should sit while the viewing is in process. Viewers form the back of the assembly should view the body in an organized queue(s) then exit the hall allowing the family members to perform the last viewing before the funeral director proceeds.
Ø If the body is to be cremated and before the casket is closed, a person standing at the front of the queue and next to the casket should hold a thali containing samagree and give a pinch to each willing viewer for them to place it in the casket while they pay their final respect. Be mindful of good housekeeping.
Ø If there will be a burial check with the funeral director if live flowers are permitted in the casket.
The following is traditional:
Death in Dhanishta panchakam / Vasupanchakam - harmful to kin
The five nakshatras - Dhanishta ( 3rd and 4th padas ), Satabhishak, P. Bhadrapada, U. Bhadrapada, Revati falling in Kumbha and Meena rasis are collectively called Dhanishta panchakama / Vasu panchakam.
Death in one of these nakshatras causes easy emancipation for the soul of the deceased, but harmful for the kin especially spouse, children and grandchildren. Shastra says there is danger at every step.
Special funeral procedure is performed in such cases. Five human forms made of kusha grass are placed on the dead body at specified places and ahutis offered on them along with placement of gold/silver before the body is submitted to fire. On the thirteenth day special shanti homa is performed for the safety of the kin.
If a person dies on a previous nakshatra and funeral is done during panchakam, then the special funeral vidhi should be followed, but shanti on the thirteenth day need not be done. If the death takes place during panchakam and funeral after panchakam is over, then the special vidhi for funeral need not be followed. Only the shanti on the thirteenth day need not be performed.
For the shanti to be performed there are some variations as far as the day is concerned like some do it on the 12th day.
The following combinations are even more dangerous -
1. Dhanista + Tuesday + Ekadashi + Vrischika lagna
2. Satabhishak + Wenesday + Dvadashi + Dhanurlagna
3. P.Bhadrapada + Thursday + Trayodashi + Makara lagna
4. U.Bhadrapada + Friday + Chaturdashi + Kumbha lagna
5. Revati + Saturday + Purnima / Amavasya + Meena lagna.
The shanti homa on the 13th day is an elaborate procedure including Mrityunjaya homa and danam.
Similarly, death during tripada nakshatras - Krittika, Punarvasu, U.Phalguni, Vishakha, U.Ashadha, P.Bhadrapada calls for special funeral procedure.