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In recent years, people have substituted other activities in lieu of the Shraddha, such as feeding the poor or giving donations to orphanages.
Feeding people in memory of the dead is considered particularly meritorious.
When you read them in a class or at other times, they are very beautiful.
But when you read them in a time of pain, they are almost like a revelation, and it's like a soothing hand on you." Some Indian-Americans journey all the way back to India to immerse the ashes in the Ganges or visit many pilgrimage sites to seek blessings for the departed soul and solace for their own pain.
"There is a saying that the fire in the house is not lit until the fire in the cremation pyre has gone out," explains Narayanan. There are very specific dietary injunctions also as to what people can and cannot eat, especially the person who has performed the last rites. The foods are considered satvic (pure) foods." In the place where the person died, a lamp is lit to light the way for the departed soul and water is kept there for its nourishment.
"Frequently both here and in India you have the recitation of the thousand names of Vishnu," says Narayanan.Shrines often contain idols, relics, or other such objects associated with the figure being venerated.A shrine at which votive offerings are made is called an altar.Hinduism, like other great religions, has specific rituals for honoring the deceased and addressing a family's grief. Vasudha Narayanan, Professor of Religion at the University of Florida and head of the American Academy of Religion, described Hindu ceremonies in a conversation with Beliefnet: In most cases, the procedures are conducted almost immediately, within a 24-hour period.
When a parent has died and the children live far away, other family members hold the body until the children arrive to do the last rites.
In most Hindu families, the body is bathed immediately after death, sometimes by women in the family.