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My grandmother who was 85 expired today. She had no sons, only a daughter (my mother) and as my mother's health is not good relatives and others said she should not do any last rites. Neither can my dad perform them, people said, as it would be bad for their kids and for their home. So, no last rites were performed for my grandmother.

What can be done now to make her soul rest in peace after we have not performed any regional traditional rites? Now we are being told that we cannot do any shraaddha karma for her and my parents are in real guilt that they couldn't do anything for her at the end of her life.

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    first of my condolence, consult your priest, he will guide you can do it by ajamana.. that is assign priest to do the karma.. actually son born to daughter can do..but that is according to parents willingness
    – Prasanna R
    Dec 28, 2018 at 13:22

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Please accept my condolences on your's grandmother's departure.

It is unfortunate that no rites were done just because she didn't have a son. I have to address this first before talking about prayaschitta.

In his book "Pithru Poojanam" (there is no online link for this book, sorry), Brahmasri Rajagopala Ganapaadi has mentioned a hierarchy of relations who are duty bound to do the apara karma, in this order:

Eldest Son, grandson, great grandson, adopted son or son's sons or son who was given in adoption, daughter's son who will inherit the wealth of deceased (Dhanahaari Dhouhitrah), daughter's son (who doesn't inherit anything), wife/husband, daughter, own elder brother, own other brothers, sons of brothers, sons of paternal uncles, father, mother, daughter-in-law

and so on for a total of 35 relations.

If there is no son, as in this case, the family has to find someone from this hierarchy who is willing and has faith (shraddha) to do the Shraadham. This is important since the same person will also have to do the yearly rites.

The author also mentions that for karma that was not done or improperly done with major flaws (or as in this case, not done at all), there is no recourse except redoing the karmas. For minor flaws or in addition to redoing the karmas, the author recommends:

  1. paaraayana of Srimad Ramayana for 9 nine days
  2. paaraayana Srimad Bhagavatam for 7 days.
  3. Respective Veda paaraayana through qualified scholars
  4. Bathing in holy rivers after proper sankalpam for the sathagati of the departed
  5. Donating black till/sesame seeds or rice with sesame seeds or black urad dall to impoverished people
  6. Donating dress or food on the maasika days to poor people
  7. Donating food and dress for laborers

and so on.

(Read this story of Dundukari's liberation by hearing Bhagavata Saptaha)

All said and done, based on one's veda, shakha and sutra, one needs to take advice from experienced scholars/priests and get the right person from the family to do the karmas (either in the elaborate fashion or as per capacity) and then do the activities like paarayana and dhaana etc.

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You have to perform Shradh (the last rite) at Gaya Tirtha. It can be done to anyone and at any time. The detailed procedure is mentioned in the last nine chapters of the Vayu Purana. Here I am quoting some relevant passages.

At Gayashiras the Pinda offered is of the size of a first or that of the green emblic myrobalan fruit or that of the leaf of the Shami tree. The devotee shall uplift seven Gotras and a hundred families. The Gotras-seven in number—are those of the father, mother, one’s wife (before marriage), one’s sister (after marriage), one’s daughter (after marriage), and those of the father’s sisters and mother’s sisters. The hundred and one families are as follows: father and his twenty four ancestors, mother and her twenty ancestors, wife and her sixteen ancestors, twelve ancestors of the sister’s husband, eleven ancestors of the son-in-law, seven ancestors of the husband of the sister of one’s father and eight ancestors of the husband of mother’s sister. -Vayu Purana 109.25-27

As you can see at Gaya you can offer Pinda and provide salvation to any of your dead family members.

Mantra: I invoke all those members of our family who are dead and who have no other way of salvation. I shall invoke them on the Darbha grass, with water libations along with gingelly seeds. -Vayu Purana 109.30

I am offering this Pinda in order to uplift those persons of our family who are dead and who have no other means of salvation. -Vayu Purana 109.33

You can offer Pinda for family members whose cremation was not done properly.

I am offering this Pinda to those persons who were duly cremated and who were not those who were struck dead by lightning or by robbers. -Vayu Purana 109.37

Even one can offer Pinda to friends, who committed suicide, who died violent death etc.

Reference -

  1. Vayu Purana translated by G. V. Tagare (Part I, Part II)

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