The Traditions Of Sikh Funerals

It’s always a tragedy when a loved one dies and the best way to see them off is with a funeral that’s true to who they were in life. That’s why it’s very important for people of faith to be able to access funeral care that’s true to their religion. While Sikhism is a minority in the UK, there is nonetheless a strong community of practising Sikhs, and as such it’s important that Sikh funeral rites be available.

Today, we’ll be exploring Sikh funerals, taking a closer look at their practices and traditions and how to arrange one in the UK.

Three Days Of Mourning

Traditionally, a Sikh funeral is known as an Antam Sanskaar or Antim Ardaas and takes place over three consecutive days. On the first day, the body is prepared (washed and dressed), following which prayers and hymns are recited by the person’s loved ones. The second day then consists of a service known as the Akhand Path, which involves a full recitation of the Guru Granth Sahib (the Sikh holy book). On the third day, the funeral procession is led by the family to the body’s final place of rest.

Laying Bodies To Rest

Sikh bodies can be cremated or buried depending on the desires of the deceased and the wishes of the family. During the ceremony, people speak prayers and hymns, following which food and support are offered to the family as a way of expressing condolences.

Arranging Sikh Funerals

Organising a Sikh funeral in the UK can be something of a challenge if you don’t live near any specialist funeral directors. While the UK has many funeral directors of all different faiths, it’s very important for people to find one who understands their beliefs and can be respectful towards their traditions.

Attending A Sikh Funeral As A Non-Sikh

One thing some people from outside the Sikh community might not realise about the faith is how fundamental the principles of religious tolerance and acceptance are to them. Indeed, Sikhism was founded out of a desire to break away from the religious tensions that India was going through during the time of Guru Nanak. As such, Sikh funerals are open to people of all faiths and cultures and this is often seen as an opportunity to promote understanding and unity across communities.
If you’re a non-Sikh and you’ve never been to a Sikh funeral before then the most important thing to know is that Sikhism has many rites and practises that may not be common to other funeral traditions and that it’s good to be mindful of this. That being said, there’s no better way of saying goodbye to a loved one than by learning more about their community and beliefs in life.

Rachel has over 5 years of content writing experience.

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