All of us who have seen renowned filmmaker Madhur Bhandarkar’s film ‘Page 3’ were able to sympathize with the protagonist, actress Konkona Sensharma, when she feels appalled at the complete lack of humanity shown by people who belonged to the most moneyed sections of the society at someone’s funeral. The scene showed people discussing jewelry, clothes, dressing styles and everything else at the funeral, except the person who passed away. They did not even care to dress in an appropriate way to honor the deceased. In fact, in any culture people are expected to behave their best at funeral rather than at weddings. Proper etiquette has to be maintained since one wrong move could become a faux pas. Here are some etiquettes for a funeral service.
Dos And Don’ts At Funerals
Here are some ways in which one can maintain proper etiquette during funerals:
How To Dress
If you are going to a Hindu funeral, you are better off wearing a simple cotton or synthetic sari; not many people expect you to wear white clothes these days, even if you are a close family member of the deceased. It is best to wear monochrome or else go for a dull color in dress. You had better put away all western clothing because it will be considered rather impolite to wear your normal jeans and tee to a funeral. Men can, as usual, get away with anything! However, make sure you wear sober or pastel colours and wear sandals or shoes that do not need socks because you will be required to remove the shoes anyway. The same goes for funerals in Islam but you can wear shoes with socks for a Christian funeral because you will not be required to remove them. Even in that the colours should be dark and subdued – like black or navy blue – which are the easiest choices open to people. In any of the funerals, it will be considered inappropriate to wear too colorful clothes, clothes with polka dots or other large prints and gaudy colors.
When you arrive at the place where the funeral service is taking place, first go and greet the mourners, gravely though, then take a look at the body of the deceased laid down or lying in a casket. If it is a Hindu or Buddhist funeral procession, you could light an incense stick or two near the body of the deceased. If it is a Muslim funeral procession that you are attending, make sure to encourage the family members of the deceased to pray for the person’s journey to heaven (Jannat). Since death is almost invariably linked to afterlife, it will be quite appropriate to make such references about the deceased. At Christian funeral services, since most of them will be held in a church, it is considered appropriate to say something good about the person who has passed away.
Offering condolences to the family and near ones of the deceased is a common practice in any funeral. It will, however, be considered inappropriate to talk loudly or to show too much grief at Christian, Muslim or even some Sikh funeral services. Hindu funerals would, however, not mind you shedding a few tears – in fact, it is considered rather reverential to cry at someone’s death since it proves that you really miss the person and that the person’s demise has caused a void in your life too. As a man, and a young one, you may be expected to lift the body of the deceased and carry it to the crematorium ground, especially if there are less male members among the near ones of the deceased. Women, on the other hand, will be expected to stay behind to console the wife, mother or daughters, who will not get to go to the crematorium or burial ground either, especially if it is a Muslim funeral.