In Sikhism a funeral ceremony is called “Antam Sanskaar,” or celebration of the completion of life. Rather than lamenting the passing of an individual, Sikhism teaches resignation to the will of the creator, emphasizing that death is a natural process, and an opportunity for reunion of the soul with its maker.
The Final Moments of Life in Sikhism
In the final moments of life, and at the time of passing, the Sikh family encourages their ailing loved one to focus on the divine by reciting “Vaheguru,” or suitable passages of scripture from the Guru Granth Sahib. In Sikhism, after a death occurs, funeral arrangements are made by the family which includes conducting a Sehaj Paath, or a complete reading the Guru Granth Sahib. The Sehaj paath is carried out over a period of ten days following the funeral ceremony after which formal mourning concludes.
In Sikhism, a funeral ceremony may take place at any time of day or night, as is convenient and be either formal or informal. Sikh funeral services are meant to induce detachment and promote resignation to the will of the divine. A service may be conducted:
- Out of doors
- In a gurdwara
- At a funeral home
- At the home of relatives
Every Sikh funeral service, however simple or complex, consists of reciting the final prayer of the day, Kirtan Sohila, and the offering of Ardaas. Both may be performed prior to cremation, the scattering of ashes, or otherwise disposing of remains.