Basically, there are a few numbers (of days) after various events that are of special significance.

E.g. 41 days after a person dies, the members of their family must go to a temple; likewise for any good occasions. Also, every 3, 16, or 41 days, certain events/formalities are done.

And my question is, what do these numbers signify in case of death?

  • Can you specify what particular Hindu tradition you are from? I am not familiar with anything special happening at 3, 16, or 41 days after an event, and am having difficulty finding any information about this on the internet.
    – senshin
    Commented Jun 22, 2014 at 1:54
  • Hindu Ezhlava.. From south India.. Irrespective of tradition,most of the people follow this practice widely in South India
    – Sukan
    Commented Jun 22, 2014 at 3:28
  • @Sukan: It is a nice question, hope somebody can answer it with good explanation. A related question is here
    – user11
    Commented Jun 22, 2014 at 7:38
  • 1
    3, 16, 41? In AP, we use 11, 12 and 13 after death (11th and 13th being mist important). 16 is used only after marriages, AFAIK. Maybe these are local customs?
    – tpb261
    Commented Jun 22, 2014 at 19:18
  • 1
    @tpb261:It is not local at all. There are 16 samskaras in total. The 16th samskara is the Anthyeshti. There are 15 samskaras before the 16th one, like gharbhadana,pumsavanam,etc. And other days, 3 and 41 are related to different pranas/jivas leaving the body after the death. Only an expert can answer the question in detail.
    – user11
    Commented Jun 29, 2014 at 12:55

3 Answers 3


Importance of Days after death.

Day 1 Body is kept until child(male) come to ignite the body of the parent

From the moment of death the whole family is having "sutak" means they are apart from the whole society, can not cook at home , can not touch anybody or can not go to temple.

Day 2-13 I think you might be knowing all the procedures so not writing here.

Some communities believe after day 13 the family can now re-integrate into the society and some communities believe after 40 day a family can re-integrate into the society.

So this depends on community. So people of family can now go to temple on these days.


The day when "sutak" releases family's day come to re-integrate to society. So that day is important. Maybe we will have better answers than this.

  • 3
    The number varies as per community belief. In gujarat we have 13 days sansakara vidhi, So I wrote 13, for you it will be 16.
    – prem30488
    Commented Jul 29, 2014 at 17:25

Let me briefly answer your question, this is the content which I have given as the comment earlier.

The numbers mentioned in the example is relevant in case of the death. There are different types of pranas and jivas in our body. After the death of a person each of them leaves the physical body (or annamaya Kosa). When the death take place first of all pranavayu is leaving the body and depending on the behavior all of them specific time to leave the body. Also the soul too have it's timings to leave the body. On 3rd day of death there are certain rituals to perform and these are done for the moving of these things smooth. The same is applicable to the 41st day.

The number 16 represent the 16th Sansakara 'Anthyeshti'. There are 16 samskaras in total. There are 15 samskaras before the 16th one, like gharbhadana,pumsavanam,etc. See the detail in this question. So after the death of a person the rituals mentioned in the 'Antheyshti' will be done by relatives.

Note: Don't have enough details on these. These are just my basic understandings and this answer is certainly not complete.


In my opinion, the procedures (in the context of this question, though the nuance variations are there) are common for all irrespective of caste and creed.

Especially in Tamilnadu, it is just common for all Hindus, but slowly this has degraded in to brief two categories. What to do on which days is detailed in depth in Garuda Puranam which is a FAQ on these aspects asked by Garuda and answered by Lord Sriman Narayanan.

These practices are practically not possible to follow even for the most rigid followers. For example, there is a ceremony called sothakumba which has to be performed on daily basis for the first year. This in present day is not practical and hence to avoid total non-observance it is been practiced once a month.

Generally speaking the relaxed observance are seen among brahmin community. For this community and with the relaxed observance procedure, the days 1-13, ~30, ~45 ~180, ~360 are significant for the first year and one day in subsequent years.

This has fallen down to 1, 10, ~30, ~360 among non brahmin community. Though there are no such relaxations prescribed, many in Tamilnadu follow this pattern.

As far as the significance for these numbers, they are: 1-10 are the days where the departed soul will get a sukshma sareera (body) and the body grows and get organs based on the pinda (rice balls) that the kartha offers on each day.

11-13 are the days which is called ekodhishtam, sapindakarma and 'subha sweekaram'.

In the 11th day, the athma which got the new sareera is about embark a journey this day to other loka.

Vasu, Rudra, Aadhitya are the three layers of pitrus. When the departed soul starts its journery to Vasu group and it will have a cascading effect on other groups and finally the Aadhitya group will go out these three and may be born as another jeevan or goto swarga or naraka. This is done on the 12th day slicing the rice into halves.

The 13th day is the day where the grieving family is ready to accept the shubham and hence the name.

In this context the time for us is different for the time for pithrus and so in every other lokha. A human month is equal to a pitru day. Hence the kartha has to do the ceremony on every month. This is so mandatory for the departed soul as this soul will carve for this food. Being so important, just to avoid non-compliance by unforeseen events (like death for the kartha), it is been offered 16 set of stuffs like rice, vegetables, jaggery etc as donations.

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