Hinduism is practiced by approximately 2.23 million Americans. Since the dominant religion in the United States is Christianity, when someone who belongs to a different religion passes away, you may not know what the proper etiquette is when it comes to things like sending sympathy flowers. Here's what you need to know about how Hindus view the tradition of sending flowers when someone passes, so you can avoid making a faux pas that may unintentionally offend the family.
Do Not Send or Take Flowers to the Funeral
Hindu burial traditions are quite different from Christian ones. In Christian funerals, flowers are typically used to decorate the area surrounding the casket during wakes, memorials, and at the burial site. Therefore, it's perfectly acceptable to send flowers directly to the funeral home or bring them with you when to attend the services.
At Hindu funerals, however, flowers are used to adorn the body along with Tulsi leaves (a species of the basil and mint family). Additionally, the decedent's family chooses the flowers they use based on their symbolism and the health benefits they may confer to the deceased person as he or she journeys to the next life. For instance, the lotus is a sacred flower in Hinduism and is sometimes placed on the body because of its association with Krishna and other Hindu gods.
Therefore, it's inappropriate to send flowers to the funeral home or bring them with you to the service. The family won't be able to use them, and the priest or funeral director will have to take time away from the proceedings to find a place for them in the area.
It's important to note you should not send flowers to the family at all during the time period between when the person died and when the ceremony takes place either. This time is considered sacred as the family will be focused on completing rituals and ceremonies to help the soul transition to its next life. Dealing with a flower delivery may be seen as an unwelcome distraction during a time when they need to be focused.
Send Flowers After the Ceremony
It is not customary in Hinduism to send sympathy flowers to a grieving family, so they typically do not expect any. However, Hindus living in America are generally well aware of this tradition and will accept the flowers graciously as long as you send them at the right time. Flowers should be sent directly to the family after the funeral and cremation of the body has taken place. In fact, you may want to wait a day or two after the proceedings just to give the family time to recover.
Since Hindus don't have a tradition involving sympathy flowers, there isn't an associated list of recommended flowers you should send. As noted previously, however, flowers have spiritual significance in the religion, so sending a bouquet of culturally relevant flowers may be more meaningful than simply ordering a vase of Calla Lilies.
For instance, the hibiscus is associated with the goddess Kali and Lord Ganesha. The red color is a representation of Kali's tongue, while the flower's petals is believed to emit divine consciousness and is associated with the Ganesh principle. Overall, it is thought the hibiscus will bring wealth to the family home and eliminate their enemies. Sending a bouquet of these flowers could be a way to wish the family good fortune.
The lotus flower also has great meaning in Hinduism, being linked to many major gods, such as Vishnu. However, at the most basic level, the lotus flower represents wisdom and spiritual enlightenment because of its ability to blossom in muddy waters. Therefore, a bouquet of these flowers during a time of pain and suffering may help remind the family that they will pull through.
For help with choosing sympathy flowers to send to a Hindu family grieving the passing of a loved one, talk to a knowledgeable florist like Marine Florists.