This post may seem morbid and I’m sorry if it does not seem helpful or causes offence in any way. Death is something which few people talk about. However, when somebody close to you dies, it’s often difficult to think straight or know what to do.

This article is intended to be a practical guide for those who are dealing with the events that follow a loss. I hope it supports you when you need it.

A few things think about

The Prarthna Sabha

Think about when you want the Prarthna Sabha to be held. Do you want it to be a community hall or somewhere else? How long will the prayers be, and how will you let people know?

If you want the Prarthna Sabha to be held at the Navnat Centre in Hayes, visit for the phone number of the hall secretary. He or she will check the availability of the hall and inform you very quickly. Some other choices of venue are Sangam Hall and Kadva Patidar Hall in Kenton. You will also need to decide whether you wish to hire professional musicians, ask friends or family members to sing or perhaps use a compilation of songs e.g. CD, MP3s etc.

The funeral director

Choosing the funeral director is an important decision which should take a load off your shoulders. They will be able to guide you and inform you so decision making is easier for you.

The funeral

Depending on the circumstances of the death you may not be able to plan the funeral yet. If this is not the case, you may want to have the funeral quickly, or you might want to wait. People have different reasons for choosing to wait. Some of these may include, waiting so that key family members can attend the funeral, or wanting to have a specific number of days between the death and the funeral.

It will be helpful to discuss this with the funeral directors. They will hopefully, call the crematorium/cemetery of your choice and find out when it’s available, what the time slots are, if there’s anything you need to know about parking and so on. If you are in London the number for Golders Green Crematorium is 020 8455 2374. Others are listed on Yell. Click here for more info.

Some of this may not be necessary if the body is going to be donated.

Paying final respects

Once you know when the funeral is going to be, decide whether you want to bring the body home or hold the final ceremonies at the funeral directors.

Ask the Funeral Directors to guide you about timings as they will factor in things like, distance and traffic.

Making sure people know

Emotions may be running high, family members may be exhausted and not thinking straight. Therefore, I suggest you find a way to take the weight off your shoulders and let others help you.

Some suggestions:-

Think about surviving parents or brothers and sisters, for example. Work out who the heads of these families are and ask them to inform those who fall under their family tree.

You can register on the NVA website and complete a form, which would then be emailed to the entire community. You can decide which details you want to include e.g. the immediate family i.e. parents, partner/spouse, children, children’s partner/spouse and grandchildren of the person who’s passed away. Alternatively, you could list the siblings of the person who’s passed, with or without the names of their partner/spouse and so on. The choice is yours.

Guidance re what to send when circulating information about a death in the community – Provided by Gajendra Chhatrisha

1. Full Name of the demise followed by husband/wife of……………..and

2. Father/Mother of…………..names of sons and daughters where applicable.

3. Present domicile………London/ Leicester etc. and formerly of Nairobi/Mombasa/Mumbai etc.

4. Contact Address, Telephone Numbers and e-mail i/d.


Work out who you would like to assist with the rituals to be performed at home and recite farewell prayers at the crematorium. You will also need to decide whether you want to follow, for example, Jain rituals or Vaishnav rituals.

It’s a hot topic but there are variations in terms of what’s acceptable when the body is brought to the home, what should and shouldn’t be done during the Prarthna Sabha, whether you need a photo or not, whether the lamp needs to be lit during all the days between the Prarthna Sabha and the funeral or not, and so on.


Some would say that if the person who’s died is a woman who was married and her husband survived her, she should be dressed in the sari she wore on her wedding day. Some may feel that this should only be the case if she was a certain age when she passed. Others may suggest that she should wear her favourite clothes. Another hot topic, which can be managed if you have a little time to think about it.


Decide on the whether you want speeches given at the Prarthna Sabha, as well as, the funeral. If so, how many and who by? Try and avoid duplications. It’s also worth informing the neighbours that there will be a lot of people visiting during the next few days. Let them know when the Prarthna Sabha and funeral is in case they wish to attend. A polite letter to all the neighbours might be helpful. This will save you meeting people individually and repeating yourself.

Flowers or donations?

Some people have flowers on the coffin, and others prefer to use that amount of money to make a donation to a specific charity. I have also seen collection boxes in the family home, hall and crematorium. Often the family will have decided which chairty they want the donations to go to, and there will be a sign on the box stating that.


Some families feel that females shouldn’t attend funerals. Without getting into the possible reasons for it, it’s worth discussing what you’d like to do, as this will affect the message that you share and whom you share it with.


Talk to the Funeral Directors and find out whether the utthamanu can be performed inside rather than outside. If so, make sure someone takes what’s needed. The Funeral Directors should be able to advise.

Who will stay behind?

Usually, during the funeral, someone stays at home (or in the hall where people will come after the funeral), so that they are there to receive people as they arrive, and so that various things are set up.

After the funeral, if everyone will be coming home, the person who stays behind usually cleans the rooms, removes signs of rituals that were performed, vacuums and freshens it up.

Whether they come home or to a hall, there are usually buckets of warm water, (and napkins), which are kept outside, for people to wash their hands and face before they enter the home or hall.


The family will need to decide when to perform the tithi. It is usually an odd number of days after the day the person died e.g. 7, 9 or 11 days. The titthi releases the relatives from observing bereavement. Some families do it on the day of the funeral. This may be because the person who died was elderly, and the family feel that their life should be celebrated. If someone in the family is getting married soon, or there’s some other auspicious event, the family may choose to have a short mourning period.


Have a think about what you want to happen between the day that the person passed away and the titthi. Some people meet to sing Bhajans on each day between these two events. Some families find it better to keep this restricted to immediate family, others include extended family, and some invite friends, neighbours and so on.


Do you want the food that will be served after the funeral to be supplied by caterers or would you like it to be homemade? You might also want to consider this for the days between the day the person died and the funeral.

Ashes if the body has been cremated

Decide whether you want the ashes to be saved. If not, do you want them disposed of by the Funeral Directors or do you want to scatter them yourself?

I hope this helps.

Please do let me know if I’ve left anything out.

Below, you’ll find a list of things that you may need for the Prarthna Sabha, funeral and ceremonies.


Items required for various rituals at time of death – Provided by Surendra Mehta

 Prathna sabha

•    Photograph of the person who died
•    Ghee wick (vat)
•    A small tin full of ghee
•    Divo holder
•    Thali for divo
•    Matches or lighter
•    Incense sticks (Agarbati)
•    Agarbati holder
•    A photo of a deity

Items required for the ritual at home when the coffin arrives

This may vary slightly depending on who is conducting the funeral rites

•    One white piece of poplin cloth (about 2.5m or 3 yds) to cover the body
•    One large white bedsheet on which the coffin stands
•    Nara chadi
•    Abil
•    Galal
•    Small packet of Sukhad powder
•    Kanku
•    4 coconuts
•    Taal
•    Jav
•    Sukhad garland

Uthamnu items

This may vary slightly depending on who is conducting the funeral rites

•    Photo of Shanker Bhagwan (this is usually available at Golders’ Green – confirm with funeral director)
•    Ghee wick (vat)
•    A small tin of ghee
•    Divo holder
•    Thali for divo
•    Matches or lighter
•    Incense sticks (Agarbati)
•    Agarbati holder
•    Large white handkerchief (for jiv daya collection)
•    Small stool

Suggested Menu for chhas-rotla (the meal) after the funeral

This is suggested menu and will usually vary depending on personal choices. This amount will cater 150 people.

•    Maag
•    Raw banana curry
•    Rice
•    Theplas – 300
•    Rotlas – about 50 cut into quarters
•    Chhas
•    Tea
•    Pickle (green chilis/carrots) – optional
•    Bundi – optional – 12 pounds)
•    Paper plates (200), cups (400), spoons (200), serviettes (500)

Suggested timetable for Prathna-sabha

Up to 8.30pm   Navkar mantra
8.30 – 9.10pm   Selected stavans
9.10 – 9.20pm   Speeches (including life sketch and condolences from community leader and one or two others)
9.20 – 9.25pm   Kavsag
9.25 – 9.28pm   Annoucements which could include such items (suggestions only) as
(a) no flowers (donate the money to a charity instead)
(b) details of funeral time/place
(c) request that only close family should attend when the body is brought home
(d) request that (except for the very close family) ladies should not come to the funeral
9.28 – 9.30pm   Vote of thanks
Family ladies line up on one side and gents on the other side.

Checklist for planning the day of funeral

•    Decide who is going to sit in which car
•    Decide who is going to initially lift the coffin at each stage
•    Decide who is going to press the button
•    Decide who is going to go into furnace room
•    Decide who is going to stay at home and keep food ready when everyone returns from the funeral

Suggested timetable on the day of funeral

Timing will need to be changed accordingly

10.00 am Body arrives
10.00 – 10.40am Rituals/last respect
10:50 am Those going to Golders’ Green to take their place in allocated cars (…… responsible for the allocation)
10.40 – 10:50 am Immediate family members pay the last respect in private
10:55 am Coffin Closes – 6 close family members lift the coffin and take it to the funeral car
11:00 am Everyone departs for the crematorium
12:00 noon Body arrives at Crematorium (reserve first few rows for the family) – 6 close family members initially lift the coffin (subsequently joined by others) and take the coffin to the crematorium hall where the ceremony is conducted.
12.15 – 12.25pm Prayers and other religious rituals incl Manglik (………)
12:25 – 12:400pm Speeches
Life Sketch (…………………)
Other speeches (………………)
Condolences from a leader in the community (………….)
A vote of thanks/Announcements (……………….)
12.40 – 12.42pm Antim prathna (shradhanjali)
12.44pm ……… press the button (accompanied by someone reciting ‘mangal mandir kholo’) – then the family members (usually six) go into the furnace room
12.55 – 1.20pm Uthamnu (in the grounds of Crematorium or inside, if time permits)

Family ladies line up on one side and gents on the other side.

Close relations come home for chhas rotlo and the ‘tithi’ (for the lifting of Shog).

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1 Comment

Ajay · July 16, 2009 at 9:10 pm

Hi, I have just recently heard about navnat and have been researching the history behind it. We recently had a customer (We are a flower shop) that wanted flowers and said the funeral was navnat related. I have been looking around to see what it was.

I find this all very interesting. I love to study other cultures and beliefs.

Thanks for such a great site that helps to explain everything.

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