Daniel Eggington - Latest News

A Hindu Funeral

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So here I am in Trinidad exploring the south with my couch surfing host, Arlene wherein the 2 days of spending it with her and her two children. She has mentioned the Hindu community do a funeral service on a platform overlooking the ocean, it is a nice spot and she had explained most days they have some sort of service although she had never been to one yet, on my last day with her. We came past the site and there was a large crowd gathered I asked if you think we could go and have a look, out of curiosity for the culture and a learning experience for myself, It was shocking initially but we pulled over and approached the older members of the group and asked if we could possibly take part they agreed instantly with a smile on their faces I had my camera already and prepared, it to photograph, but I asked again another member and again they agreed happily. I tried to get some information on the man who had died his name was? Harminder if I remembered correctly, and he had died of natural causes I again asked is it alright if I take pictures because I travel often and like to learn about new cultures all over the world they smiled and carried on with the service.

They had explained a small bit about why they burn their dead and all the belongings that he had on him at the time of death which was a traditional Hindu attire and a long white cloth and the reasoning and historical tradition of burning their dead, where they had put a special oil and a scent on the mans chest walked around the platform around 10 times and lit fire to oil-soaked clothes on the end of bamboo trunks, the men then lifted the body and placed him lightly in the middle of the structure and then placed the bamboo inside with the man it was shocking to see for the first time but a huge amount of culture in one day which anyone would appreciate.

Hindus believe in the soul not able to be destroyed, and that death symbolises the end of a physical being and the start of a new journey for the soul. This soul then reincarnates in some other life form and passes through the same cycle of taking birth, growing and eventually meeting death- only to begin the cycle afresh.

Cremation of a person’s dead body is, therefore, supposed to rid the departed soul of any attachments to the body it previously resided in. Also, a traditional belief among Hindus says that a person’s body is composed of 5 elements- earth, fire, water, air and sky. The cremation ceremonies of Hindus are directed towards returning the body to these elements. The body is progressively returned to earth, air, sky and fire by burning it under skies; and the ashes are respectfully collected and poured in a river but in this case was returned to the ocean It is said that excessive mourning over a deceased prevents the soul from being completely detached from its loved ones, and keeps it from undertaking its new journey hence the joyous and celebration rather than the mourning I noticed, which could prevent taking up a new life. Cremation (and subsequent ceremonies in mourning) help to remove most of those things that can act as a reminder for the person’s existence, and thereby also assist the family in getting over the loss.