What to Wear | Hindu Funerals
The Hindu religion is considered one of the most popular religions in the world, with over one billion followers worldwide. While most of the religion’s worshipers are located in India, there is a large group of people in America that follow Hindu beliefs. However, many of us still don’t have very much exposure to the Hindu religion, so when a Hindu friend or co-worker dies, and we have to attend their funeral, we want to be as respectful as possible.
Understanding the Hindu Faith and Traditions
Before we talk about what you should wear to a Hindu funeral, it would first be good to get a quick understanding of the Hindu religion. For instance, it is good to know that Hindus do believe in reincarnation. They believe death in one body also means they will soon be reborn in another body, the state of which depends on that person’s karma in their most recent life. Because of this, Hindus believe the soul does not have a beginning or end. Hindus also worship many different gods, all of which they believe came from Brahma, the main God.
At a Hindu wake, you will likely see the body laid out, dressed in white in an open casket, and flowers surrounding the body. Also, if the person that died happened to be a young woman, they may be wearing yellow, if they are married red. The body is not touched by mourners at the wake, as it has been carefully cleaned, washed and prepared ahead of time.
Colors to Wear to a Hindu Funeral
While in most cultures wearing black to a funeral is the norm, during a Hindu funeral most mourners will wear white. To the Hindu culture white means purity, and it is used to show respect to the departed and the family. It is also very common for the deceased men to be wearing white clothes when buried. Young unmarried girls are buried wearing yellow or orange, and married women will often be buried wearing red. While not all families follow these customs, wearing white to a Hindu funeral is a safe way to pay your respect to the family.
Other meaningful colors for the Hindu culture include:
Saffron: Represents purity for the Hindu faith.
Yellow: Represents education and intelligence.
Green: Represents living and life itself.
Blue: Symbolizes determination and courage.
Dress Code for a Hindu Funeral
Many cultures have a tradition of wearing formal clothes to funerals. During a Hindu funeral, however, the dress code for both men and women is more casual. Covering their heads is custom of both men and women. But women often dress conservatively covering their arms and knees.
For women, wearing jewelry is acceptable. However, women often do not wear clothes or jewelry too flashy or extravagant. Open-toe shoes are relatively common at Hindu funerals, as well as wearing socks with shoes. And again, while most people wear white, this is not always mandatory. Modern Hindu families often wear soft, pastel colors to funerals.
American Hindu Funeral Customs
Attending a Hindu funeral in America may be slightly different. If you are close to the family, ask what type of service they will be holding for their loved ones. It is polite to ask about funeral customs to spare both discomfort and embarrassment. Some Hindu families will go ahead and hold a funeral service following their Hindu traditions. While others will adopt Western funeral traditions and customs. Understanding the type of service the family will have can help you know what to wear, what to bring to the funeral and more.