Sikh Funeral Traditions & Etiquette

What to expect at a Sikh funeral.

Sikhs believe in the reincarnation of the soul and that cremation releases the soul from the body. Sikh funeral services can take place at a crematorium or in a family home. If you are not a practicing Sikh or Punjab speaker, you can attend the service, but you are not expected to participate.

When you arrive at a Sikh funeral, greet the eldest family member first as a gesture of respect. Sikhs greet each other by folding their hands in prayer and offering a small bow. It’s acceptable to shake hands too.

What to wear.

Sikhs wear white to funerals and men and women cover their heads for the funeral. Non-practicing Sikhs can wear modest clothing in black, grey or navy. Avoid flashy jewelry and bright colors. Bring a head covering just in case. (The family may also provide them.)

Appropriate gifts.

You aren’t expected to bring gifts to a Sikh funeral. Check with the family before sending flowers. If you wish to bring food to the grieving family, choose a vegetarian dish. Avoid gifts of alcohol as most Sikhs don’t drink. If you aren’t sure about the family’s dietary preferences, it’s a good idea to ask.

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