I recently had a death in the family. My paternal grandmother (father's side) died at the ripe old age of 87 after a short battle with cancer. We are Hindu/Iyengaars. I am supposed to marry my fiance (who is American and non-hindu) in June but this untimely and unfortunate death of my grandmother will probably postpone our wedding by a year as per some people.

I have been looking around for official texts or something close to an official text that would tell me if and when a marriage would need to be postponed post a death in the family and what "kriyas" or acts may be performed to circumvent this.

Would anyone know something about this, perhaps pertinent to the iyengar belief system?


2 Answers 2


If there is a death on the paternal side, then all Subha karyas, including visit to kshetras, tirthas etc., except marriage of female offspring, need to be abandoned for a year i.e. till the samvatsara sraddha is performed. This is not "according to some people" but according to dharma. Such dharmas can be found in 1. Dharma Sindhu 2. Nirnaya Sindhu 3. Parasara Samhita 4. Varaha Purana 5. Anusasanika Parva of Mahabharata etc.

It is not wise to challenge wisdom of ancients because it comes in the way of our material comforts. Seeking validation for every small dharma that is out there will dissipate one's time and energy, and even then, one lifetime is not sufficient to verify everything before choosing to implement it. Just as we rely on the scholarship of doctors to treat us, engineers to build us houses, lawyers to defend us in the legal system, it is good to rely on the scholarship of pundits on scriptural and dharmic matters. i.e. if dharma is important to you. Else, you can exercise your free-will; but remember there are consequences for all that we say, do, and even think.

  • Thank you for your answer. Do you have specific verbiage from any of these dharmas that I could read? Is what they say a warning or is it a recommendation?
    – dearN
    Commented Jan 24, 2015 at 10:40
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    You should provide specific citations and/or quotes from the texts you're citing. You can read the Anushasana Parva of the Mahabharata here: sacred-texts.com/hin/m13/index.htm Commented Jan 24, 2015 at 11:33
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    @moonstar2001 And here is the Motilal Banarsidass translation of the Varaha Purana, in two volumes: dspace.wbpublibnet.gov.in:8080/jspui/handle/10689/12962 dspace.wbpublibnet.gov.in:8080/jspui/handle/10689/12972 Commented Jan 24, 2015 at 11:40
  • @KeshavSrinivasan Short of sifting through thousands of pages, what portions or chapters will I benefit the most to answer my question? Thanks.
    – dearN
    Commented Jan 24, 2015 at 13:01
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    @drN, at the risk of sounding obnoxious.. since you said the fiance is American/NonHindu - did you consider dharma shastras before deciding to marry her ? I'm sure there are exceptions when it comes to matters of heart, but in general, shastras are strict about how to choose one's life partner.
    – ram
    Commented Apr 24, 2017 at 17:56

Note: The time period for Sutak changes with Region and Caste across India. So, it is always best to ask your knowledgeable elders or your family priest. However, I provide opinion of Sri Brahmasri Vaddiparthi Padmakar who is well known Hindu Scholar in Telugu states.

Brahmasri Vaddiparthi Padmakar says "Suthak" applies only for 13 days after death of any family member except father and mother. He says

People will inflict with Suthak or Mailu if anyone dies in their family or anyone with same surname. The time of this Sutak depends on their Sakha and it is generally 12 or 13 or 15 days. If mother or father or anyone from father's side dies, then everyone of the family will have undergo Sutak period for 12-15 days. But if father dies, it is called Eti Sutakam and Sutak period is 1 year and for mother it is 6 months and rest of family members it is 12-15 days depending on Shakha.

For Grandmother, Suthak applies only for 12-15 days (depending on their Sakha as said before) and no ceremonies such as Marriage, House warming, Engagement, Yajna etc are allowed during Sutak Period. After completion of Sutak period, these ceremonies can be done.

Same question was asked in Telugu Programme called Dharma Sandhehalu which is telecasted in Telugu Channel "Bhakti TV".

  • Many follow suthak even it is grand father and grandmother (paternal). It should be followed by pouthra(grand son) too. Commented Feb 14, 2017 at 7:19
  • @SreeCharan Yes.It actually depends on Region and caste. In my caste, for grandmother, sutak or mailu is for 6 months.
    – The Destroyer
    Commented Feb 14, 2017 at 10:27

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