Geeta, Viswa's snippet on Transition reminded me of this thread. I had meant to post here but whatever happened to keep me busy, happened. I was hoping to read more responses even if I didn't post as it is a topic that touches all. Maybe the festival season and all, so people were occupied. Was nice to note that his adopted daughter lit the pyre. The task was not delegated to "nearest male relative" as happens many times. Like observed in many responses, the rituals and ceremonies are for the living to cope with the death and have a pre-written process to follow. Generally speaking, quite a few people do want their funeral to be simple and in their 50's-70's they often talk about how they want their funeral and the days after to be devoid of unnecessary expense, show, and to be done simply. Once the person with such person passes away, the funeral ends up following rituals anyway. Reasons can be many - as the person grew frail, he expressed wishes for usual funeral; not all children or surviving siblings are able to agree on having only a respectful farewell. Or, as is almost always the case, the person left no explicit directions about his funeral. Perhaps the other extreme, like in the west, where some people plan their funeral down to the last detail, is not a bad idea after all. : ) You are perhaps looking more for the meaning and reason behind the rituals. I have talked more about the social and family aspects of it. Change will happen when people are able to talk about their preferences for own funeral, and their survivors are able to implement those with lots of support from others and minimal resistance. My thoughts are only all theory for now. As I think ahead to our deaths, and plan for those, I try to anticipate any resistance our stark preferences will face from family in India if we pass away before expected. If we go one at a time, problem is less. If we go together and kids are young'ish, that will be trickier. As usual, IL threads make me end up doing something useful in real life. : ) Am thinking will appoint a similar-thinking friend as the one my older kid can approach to be that wall of defense to get our preferences implemented. LOL.. my better-half's criteria is the simplest.. follow the steps that is easiest on wallet and environment, feelings of the living other than immediate family be damned. : ) Mine is heavy on the "make sure all possible organs get donated." Which brings to mind another thought to research.. can the entire body be donated for research if some organs are donated separately. Research is important, but list of people waiting for organs is more disturbing and urgent.