It is the duty of the eldest son to lead the procession to the burial ground and set fire to the pyre called padai. Just before the procession to the cremation grounds, the body is bathed, usually under a pandal, and rice of coins is placed on the mouth of the dead. When a Vellala dies, the pyre is prepared by the Pallars and is carried by Koviars, accompanied by the barber, and washerman. The procession is led by drummers beating the tomtom.
Christians do not cremate but bury their dead.
It is a custom in Jaffna that besides the free service rendered by relatives, friends and neighbours during the period between the death and the funeral, near relatives and neighbours send cooked food to the members of the household in mourning.