Death Customs

When a Mannadiar is dying, he or she will be given the droplets of holy water (waterfrom Kashi or Rameswaram ) and mantras are chanted in the ear. This is performed for attaining Moksha(Nirvana) and to get entrance in Vaikuntam (the place where Lord Vishnu lives / heaven). When it is confirmed the person is dead, the body is covered with white cloth and a line is drawn around with sacred ash and an oil lamp is lighted. In most cases the body is ceremoniously bathed. The forehead is marked with sacred ash and sandal paste. Relatives will read selected pages from Ramayana and other sacred Hindu books. The body is taken to the cremation ground and placed with head towards the south. The bearers of the body wash their legs and wear the ritual ring (Paitram made of a particular grass). Holy water is sprinkled and ghee and other dravyams will be poured at the funeral pyre by chanting mantras. The chief man (the eldest son of the demised) lights the pyre at its north end. In olden days families followed special rituals during cremation, The retinue (akambadi) carried sword, shield and kuthu vilakku, followed by kathina vedi. These rituals are also performed on the fourteenth day(asthi nimanjanam).

(courtesy: sri. c. Appunni Mannadiar, sri meenkulathi temple book second edition,Edgur thurston's caste &tribes and Wikipedia.)