According to the wish of the individual, the dead body may be either cremated or buried. If a person did not express his/her desire during life regarding this, it is proper to cremate his/her dead body.
(1) The dead body should be carried silently.
(2) Before cremation or burial of the dead body, collective Iishvara Prańidhána should be performed.
(3) The funeral pyre should be lit by the laokika [worldly] son or the nearest relation of the dead person. Likewise, while burying, the son or the nearest relation will first dig the ground and also be the first one to put earth on the corpse.
(4) During cremation, it should be remembered that the corpse should be thoroughly burnt, maintaining the full dignity of the dead body. In case of a half-burnt corpse, it is better to bury it than to throw it into water.
(5) The disposal of the dead body and its financial responsibility belong to the society. It is not proper to give any burden to the bereaved family.
It is better to cremate the dead body in a scientific way. Where this is not possible, do not cremate the dead body naked or in an offensive manner, for that will undermine the dignity and sanctity of the funeral ceremony and produce feelings of repugnance in the onlookers. As the practice of putting fire into the mouth of the dead body is repulsive, it should not be encouraged.
N.B.: The departed soul does not get any advantage from the shráddha ceremony [memorial ceremony]. It is only meant for the psychic satisfaction of the person performing it.
An ácárya/á, a minimum of five healthy persons, and the performer of the shráddha will be present on the occasion. The nearest relation of the dead person will be considered the main performer of the shráddha ceremony. Of course, it is the right of all Margis to perform shráddha.
(1) Everyone in the ceremony will follow the ácárya/á in reciting the following mantra:
Oṋḿ madhu vátá rtáyate madhu kśarantu sindhavah; Mádhviirnah santvośadhiih. Madhu naktamutośaso madhumat párthivaḿ rajah; Madhu dyaorastu nah pitá. Madhumán no vanaspatirmadhumán astu súryah; Mádhviirgávo bhavantu nah. Oṋḿ madhu oṋḿ madhu oṋḿ madhu. (One time.)
(2) “O Supreme Father, the incorporeal soul of our dearest Shrii/Shriimatii (Mr./Ms.) . . . . . . . is far, far beyond this mortal world today. O Supreme Being, may his/her immortal soul attain higher and higher manifestation.” (Three times.)
(3) “O Supreme Father, our dearest Shrii/Shriimatii (Mr./Ms.) . . . . . . . attains liberation today from the bondages of all worldly duties. May his/her immortal soul attain eternal peace this day under the sole control of Your sweet will.” (Three times.)
(4) “O Supreme Father, You have freed us today from all the social responsibility we bore towards our dearest Shrii/Shriimatii (Mr./Ms.) . . . . . . . We return Your son/daughter to Your gracious lap with all the purity of our hearts. Oblige us by accepting him/her who is Yours.” (Three times.)
(5) “O Supreme Father, may those of Your children who are separated from Your loving lap and subjected to the triple afflictions of mundane life,(13) be not deprived of Your loving shelter at the end of their earthly sojourn.” (Three times.)
(6) Oṋḿ madhu vátá rtáyate madhu kśarantu sindhavah; Mádhviirnah santvośadhiih. Madhu naktamutośaso madhumat párthivaḿ rajah; Madhu dyaorastu nah pitá. Madhumán no vanaspatirmadhumán astu súryah; Mádhviirgávo bhavantu nah. Oṋḿ madhu oṋḿ madhu oṋḿ madhu. (One time.)
Thereafter the ácárya/ás, and following them each person present, will sip a few drops of water from their palms taken from the same pot brought by the performer of the shráddha ceremony. The performer of the shráddha will be the last to take a sip.
(7) Then the ácárya/á will recite the following mantra: Sarve’tra sukhinah bhavantu sarve santu nirámayáh; Sarve bhadráńi pashyantu na kashcid duhkhamápnuyát. Oṋḿ shántih oṋḿ shántih oṋḿ shantih. (One time.)
[Let everybody be happy; let everybody be free from all physical or psychic ailments; let everybody see the bright side of everything; let nobody be forced to undergo any trouble under pressure of circumstances… Oṋḿ shántih, oṋḿ shántih, oṋḿ shantih.]
A Few Directives:
(1) The period of mourning should not extend beyond twelve days. If you wish, you can perform the shráddha ceremony any day within this period according to convenience. During the period of mourning you should not subject yourself to unnecessary mortification or ostentatious penance.
(2) At the end of the shráddha ceremony, a gift may be made of a bull, buffalo, ram, billy-goat, or any other male domestic animal of good breed for public welfare. The animal must be male and of a developed breed. The charitable giving of animals in the shráddha ceremony is not obligatory. It is not proper that the animal should be branded elaborately. If it is considered necessary for the safety of the animal to brand it, it may be marked either on its forehead or on any hairless part of its body. The person making the charity will be responsible for its maintenance until the animal attains maturity. Thereafter, the villagers collectively will be responsible for its care. The butchering of an animal offered in charity will be considered a serious crime against the society.
There are no restrictions for widows regarding food, ornaments, clothes, or attending auspicious ceremonies. No rigorous rules or regulations concerning fasting should be imposed on them because of their widowhood. However, if a widow voluntarily follows dietary restrictions to enhance her spiritual practices, that is a different matter.