Hindus believe in reincarnation and view death as the soul moving from one body to the next, on its path to reach Nirvana, heaven. Death is a sad occasion, however Hindu priests emphasise the route ahead, for the departed soul. The funeral is as much a celebration as a remembrance service. Hindus cremate their dead, believing that the burning of a dead body signifies the release of the spirit and that the flames represent Brahma, the creator.
Family members will pray around the body as soon as possible after death. The body is usually bathed and dressed in white, traditional Indian clothing. If a wife dies before her husband, she is dressed in red bridal clothes. If a woman is a widow, she will be dressed in white or pale colours. After the cremation, the family may have a meal and offer prayers in their home. A priest will visit and purify the house with spices and incense. This is the beginning of the 13-day mourning period when friends will visit and offer their condolences.