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Reason For Scattering Ashes In River After Cremation In Hindu Religion

Scattering ashes in river after cremation is an important part of the entire death related rituals in Hindu religion. Fire and water are two important elements associated with creation in Hinduism. First, the dead body is consumed by fire. Next, the ashes are immersed in water keeping this in mind.

Ashes are to be immersed in running water – this symbolizes the cycle of life. There is no death in Hinduism – there is only transformation. Just like the river searching for ocean, the individual soul searches for the ultimate destination – moksha or liberation (merging in Supreme Truth).

Water is associated with purity and purification. By immersing the ashes, the relatives are helping the dead person to purify sins.

It must be remembered here that Bhagavan Sri Ram put an end to his presence on earth by entering the Sarayu River.

Scattering of the ashes is also a reminder to the living relatives of the dead person to stop clinging to memory of the dead individual. The living relatives should not stop the dead individual in the forward journey. The living should not suffer mentally due to the dead person. It is to help the living lead a normal life that the ashes are scattered and all connections with the physical body of the individual is cut off.

Some traditions believe that the dead person might not be ready to leave current body. The person will attempt to cling on to the body. This is the reason why the body is cremated first. Then the ashes are scattered so that the person no longer finds any part of the body to settle down again.

In ancient times, certain group of people used to raid cremation grounds to collect ashes of the dead. They used the ashes in various rituals. There was a belief that the soul of the dead will become a slave of these people. So ashes were scattered so that no one collected it to perform negative rituals.