Follow-up to Response to Information Request LKA20697.E of 24 May 1995, on the cultural responsibilities of the eldest son in a Northern Tamil Hindu family with regard to the death of one or both parents; on who would carry out the responsibilities if the eldest son is unavailable or there are no sons; and on whether female offspring can carry out these responsibilities [LKA20925.E]

The following information was provided in a 17 May 1995 telephone interview with and a follow-up fax dated 26 May 1995 from an administrator of the Tamil Information Centre, in London, United Kingdom.

When a Hindu Tamil dies, a Hindu priest will conduct the religious ceremonies at the home where the body lies. At the cemetery, an elder will guide the individual responsible for the last rites through the necessary steps.

At the death of the father, it is the eldest son who performs the last rites, which include circling the funeral pyre three times while carrying a clay pot on the shoulders, and setting the funeral pyre on fire. At the death of the mother, it is the youngest son who is responsible for the last rites and for setting the funeral pyre alight. If both parents die on the same day in the same place, and it is decided to cremate them at the same time, both sons will perform the last rites and set the pyres on fire.

If the son is unavailable or there are no sons in the family, then the next of kin or close family members will decide who should replace him, "the determination [of whom] is [based] solely on attachment to the deceased or his/her family." The source did not specify whether "attachment to the deceased" referred to the genealogical or personal relationship with the deceased. Thus, a close male relative, such as a brother, nephew or son-in-law, in the male line of the deceased will perform the duties.

Women do not go to the cemetery in Hindu custom and so would not be able to partake in the last rites and ceremony.

This Response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the DIRB within time constraints. This Response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim to refugee status or asylum.


Tamil Information Centre, London, United Kingdom. 26 May 1995. Fax sent to the DIRB by administrator.

Tamil Information Centre, London, United Kingdom. 17 May 1995. Telephone interview with administrator.