Cremation or burial: The traditional method of disposing of the dead among the Kodavas is cremation, but some families may opt for a burial, especially if the deceased was a child. The body is placed on a pyre made of wood and set alight.
Last rites: The last rites are performed by a priest, who invokes the blessings of the ancestors and the gods for the deceased. This is an important part of the death ritual and is believed to ensure the deceased's journey to the afterlife.
Memorials and offerings: The Kodavas believe in ancestor worship and often make offerings to the ancestors in the form of food and flowers. Memorials, such as stone tablets or shrines, are also erected in honor of the deceased.
Use of traditional dress: The mourning period is characterized by the wearing of traditional Kodava dress, which is all white in color. This is a sign of respect for the deceased and is worn by the bereaved family and close relatives.
Community support: The Kodava community is known for its strong sense of unity and support, and the death of a member is considered a loss for the entire community. Friends and neighbors often visit the bereaved family to offer their condolences and support during the mourning period.
Wake or vigil: In the days leading up to the funeral, a wake or vigil is often held at the deceased's home. Family and friends gather to pay their last respects and offer condolences to the bereaved family.
Funeral procession: The funeral procession, involves the carrying of the body from the deceased's home to the cremation ground. It is led by male family members and close friends, and the body is placed on a bier or a platform.
Cremation ground: The cremation ground is a sacred space and is considered to be a place of transition between life and death. It is usually located near a river or other body of water and is considered to be a place of purification.
Cremation rituals: The cremation ritual involves the lighting of the pyre and the offering of prayers and ritual items, such as rice, flowers, and sandalwood. The ashes of the deceased are usually collected and either scattered in a river or buried in a memorial.
Food offerings: Food offerings are an important part of the death ritual and are made to the ancestors and the gods. These offerings are usually made by the bereaved family and close relatives and can include rice, sweets, and fruits.
Return of the soul: It is believed among the Kodavas that the soul of the deceased returns to its ancestral home after death. The bereaved family performs rituals and prayers to guide the soul on its journey and to ensure its safe return to the ancestral home.
Mourning period: The family of the deceased goes into mourning for a period of 13 days, during which time they avoid social gatherings and perform daily rituals and prayers. The 13th day is considered the end of the mourning period, and a feast is often organized to mark the occasion.
These are some of the main death rituals and customs observed by the Kodavas. As with any cultural tradition, it's important to remember that these customs may vary widely and are subject to change over time.