Antyeshti Sanskar

Antim Sanskar is a ritual done at the time of funeral and cremation. This is the last rite of a human being. A human is termed as a very smaller part of this big universe. With Antyeshti rite, this small part of human is said to be mixed with the rest of the universe and the human cycle of Man and Nature, Energy and Matter is compeleted. The Antyeshti rite of passage is structured around the premise in ancient literature of Hinduism that the microcosm of all living beings is a reflection of a macrocosm of the universe. A body is said to form from five basic elements of nature - air, fire, earth, water and sky. With Antyeshti Sanskar all these elements are released back to the nature. The soul (Atman, Brahman) is the essence and immortal that is released at the Antyeshti ritual, but both the body and the universe are vehicles and transitory in various schools of Hinduism.

A dead adult Hindu is mourned with a cremation, while a dead child is typically buried. The last rites are usually completed within a day of death. His or her body is washed, wrapped in white cloth if the dead is a man or a widow and red saree if her husband is still alive. The two toes are tied together with a string, a Tilak (red mark) is placed on the forehead. The dead adult's body is carried to the cremation ground near a river or a cremation place (Mosksha Grah or Shamshan Ghat) by family and friends and placed on a pyre with feet facing south. The eldest son (if present) should take a bath before pursuing the Cremational Ceremony. He circumambulates the dry wood pyre with the body, says a eulogy or recites a hymn in some cases, places sesame seed or rice in the dead person's mouth, sprinkles the body and the pyre with ghee (clarified butter), then draws three lines signifying Yama (deity of the dead), Kala (time, deity of cremation) and the dead. The pyre is then set ablaze, while the mourner's mourn. Once the pyre is well-ignited the lead cremator and the closest relatives may circumambulate the burning pyre one or more times. The concluding action by the lead cremator, during the ritual, typically includes kapala kriya, or the ritual of piercing the well-incinerated skull with a stave (bamboo fire poker) to make a hole or break it, so as to release the spirit. All those who attend the cremation, and are exposed to the dead body or cremation smoke take a shower, as soon as possible after the cremation, as the cremation ritual is considered in Hinduism as hygienically unclean and polluting. The cold collected ash from the cremation is later consecrated to the Ganges (The holy river) in Haridwar, Varanasi or Allahabad. In case the family cannot go to Ganges, thay can do the rite at the nearest river or sea. The male relatives of the deceased shave their head and invite all friends and relatives, on the twelfth day, to eat a simple meal together in remembrance of the deceased. This day, in some communities, also marks a day when the poor and needy are offered food in memory of the dead.

Nowadays, with the modern outlook we can see a shift in process where women are also performing the Cremational Ceremony. Cremations are also happening in the Electric Cremation machine which performs the ceremony faster and make the surrounding environment hygenic too.