Funeral Tradition: Wearing White at Indian Funerals


In Indian culture, it is custom to wear white, and only white, to funerals.


Informant: When I attended my Tata’s [grandfather] funeral last summer, my whole family went out and bought an all white outfit. We honestly looked like European travelers. When we attended the funeral, everyone was dressed in only white which was interesting to me, since I had only attended American funerals where everyone dresses in black.”


In Indian, and specifically Hindu culture, funerals are actually viewed more optimistically, which aligns with the Hindu belief of reincarnation. Their view on death is that it washes away one’s sins and allows them to be ‘reborn. Funerals are not somber occasions where black is worn to mourn and honor the dead. Instead, white is worn to symbolize purity and hope. This aligns with the Hindu practice of cremation over burial; Hindus believe that cremation allows one to leave all of their mortal attachments to Earth and begin anew in their reincarnated chapter without any ties or connections to their original existence. In fact, it is seen as ill-willed and inauspicious to wear black to such occasions.