(a) The body of a dying or dead person, if it is on a cot, must not be taken off the cot and put on the floor. Nor must a lit lamp be placed beside, or a cow got bestowed in donation by, him/her or for his/her good or any other ceremony, contrary to Guru’s way, performed. Only Gurbani should be recited or “Waheguru, Waheguru” repeated by his/her side.
(b) When some one shuffles the mortal coil, the survivors must not grieve or raise a hue and cry or indulge in breast beating. To induce a mood of resignation to God’s will, it is desirable to recite Gurbani or repeat “Waheguru”.
(c) However young and deceased may be, the body should be cremated. However, where arrangements for cremation cannot be made, there should be no qualm about the body being immersed in flowing water or disposed of in any other manner.
(d) As to the time of cremation, no consideration as to whether it should take place during day or night should weigh.
(e) The dead body should be bathed and clothed in clean clothes. While that is done, the Sikh symbols - comb, kachha, karha, kirpan - should not be taken off. Thereafter, putting the body on a plank, Ardas about its being taken away for disposal be offered. The hearse should then be lifted and taken to the cremation ground, hymns that induce feeling of detachment should be recited. On reaching the cremation ground, the pyre should be laid. Then the Ardas for consigning the body to fire be offered. the dead body should then be placed on the pyre and the son or any other relation or friend of the deceased should set fire to it. The accompanying congregation should sit at a reasonable distance and listen to kirtan or carry on collective singing of hymns or recitation of detachment-inducing hymns. When the pyre is fully aflame, the Kirtan Sohila (prescribed pre-retirement night Scriptural prayer) be recited and the Ardas offered. (Piercing the Skull half and hour or so after the pyre has been burning with a rod or something else in the belief that that will secure the release of the soul - kapal kriya - is contrary to the Guru’s tenets). The congregation should then leave. Coming back home, a reading of the Guru Granth Sahib should be commenced at home or in a nearby gurduwara, and after reciting the six stanzas of the Anand Sahib, the Ardas, offered and karhah prashad (sacred pudding) distributed. The reading of the Guru Granth Sahib should be completed on the tenth day. If the reading cannot, or is sought not to, be completed on the tenth day, some other day may be appointed for the conclusion of the reading having regard to the convenience of the relatives. The reading of the Guru Granth Sahib should be carried out by the members of the household of the deceased and relatives in cooperation. If possible, Kirtan may be held every night. No funeral ceremony remains to be performed after the “tenth day”.
(f) When the pyre is burnt out, the whole bulk of the ashes, including the burnt bones, should be gathered up and immersed in flowing water or buried at that very place and the ground leveled. Raising a monument to the memory of the deceased at the place where his dead body is cremated is taboo.
(g) Adh marg (the ceremony of breaking the pot used for bathing the dead body amid doleful cries half way towards the cremation ground), organized lamentation by women, foorhi (sitting on a straw mat in mourning for a certain period), diva (keeping an oil lamp lit for 360 days after the death in the belief that that will light the path of the deceased), pind (ritual donating of lumps of rice flour, oat flour, or solidified milk (khoa) for ten days after death), kirya (concluding the funeral proceedings ritualistically, serving meals and making offerings by way of shradh, budha marna (waving of whisk, over the hearse of an old person’s dead body and decorating the hearse with festoons), etc. are contrary to the approved code. So too is the picking of the burnt bones from the ashes of the pyre for immersing in the Ganga, at Patalpuri (at Kiratpur), at Kartarpur Sahib or at any other such place.
The Funeral Service
Arriving at the cremation ground the body is placed on the top of a platform of firewood and more fuel piled up all over and on all sides. Then the general prayer is recited and blessings of God and the Guru are invoked for the soul of the Departed.
The Party of mourners then return and wash their hands and faces and after that Karah Parshad is distributed.
The idea is that there should be no grief shown at the passing away of the soul from the earth, as it is a natural process just like birth; summons to attend should be received with sweet resignation.
As soon as it can be conveniently arranged, the reading of Holy Book is started by the heirs of the deceased and the reading is completed on the 10th day, when, with final prayers for the soul of the departed, the funeral ceremony closes.
Sikh Ceremonies by Sir Jogendra Singh. Ludhiana