How Should I Behave at a Sikh Funeral?

In Sikhism, when a person passes, they have taken the next step on the journey to becoming one with God (Waheguru). This is a cycle, as all souls were once a part of God, they will return to God. The body is merely a vessel on this journey. Since the soul cannot die, Sikhs do not mourn the decedent. Instead, they celebrate those they have lost and pray the decedent’s soul will return to God. These beliefs influence how you should act at a Sikh funeral.

At Callaghan Mortuary & Livermore Crematory, we help families of all faiths celebrate the lives of those they have lost. Along the way, we have picked up a lot of knowledge that may help you show respect for those who have passed. Here is a touch of what we have learned about respectful behavior during a Sikh funeral.

How to Give Proper Condolences to the Family

Sikhism is a very private and respectful religion. Extensive displays of grieving and sadness are not appropriate. After all, those who pass are not truly gone, but just one step closer to becoming one with God. Keep this in mind when reaching out to the family of the decedent.

The family may appreciate a phone call to express your love for the deceased. However, do not focus on sadness or loss in your call. Talk about the good times you had together, and express happiness that the decedent is closer to God.

If the family invites you to the funeral, or any of the ceremonies held once someone has passed, maintain a positive state of mind. Expect hymns, prayers, and readings from the Sri Guru Granth Sahib (the Sikh religious scripture). If you are not Sikh, your participation in these rituals is not required. Also, keep in mind that Sikhs disprove of emotional outbursts, so try to remain subdued and respectful. Sikh funerals usually last between 30 minutes to an hour.

What Is Appropriate Attire for the Funeral?

At a Sikh funeral, smart and modest attire is most appropriate. Avoid showing too much skin and remember that both men and women should wear head coverings. In some instances, the family may provide such head coverings, but it does not hurt to have your own ready. You should also avoid wearing fancy, flashy jewelry.

The color of mourning tends to be white, but black, grey, navy or charcoal are also acceptable. However, you should try to avoid bright colors and patterns. Sikh culture considers brightly colored attire disrespectful at funerals.

What Gifts Are Appropriate for the Family?

As in many funeral traditions, it is customary (though not required) to bring food to the family of the decedent. In most cases, bringing a vegetarian dish that does not contain meat, meat products or alcohol is most appropriate. Some sects of Sikhism have different dietary practices, so consider calling the family to ask what they would like.

If you are considering sending flowers to the family, you should also check with the family first. Though it is not forbidden, not every Sikh family celebrates the lives of the deceased with flowers.

How Can Callaghan Mortuary & Livermore Crematory Help?

For over 115 years, our California funeral home has helped families of all faiths lay their loved ones to rest. We believe in honoring all traditions and faiths, and our services are available to families in need. Call (925) 492-7500 to speak to our staff today.