Different funeral practices and death beliefs

FuneralHomes.com has put together a list of different religious practices and beliefs for some of the more popular religions around the world. This section of our website will help in preparing you when attending a funeral in the listed religions.

BUDDHISM

There are a few different beliefs within this one religion. Japanese Buddhists funerals traditionally last for about one hour and fifteen minutes and have a prayer service at a funeral home and a eulogy is usually read. Cambodian, Sir Lanka, and Thai Buddhists have up to three ceremonies where each lasts about forty five minutes. The first one is held within two days of the death at a home of the immediate family; the second is held within two to fives days after death and this is where monks would conduct a service in the funeral home; the third ceremony which is also called the 'merit transference' is held seven days after the death. It is customary the people who attend the funeral bow and see the body in the casket as a sign of appreciation for its lessons regarding impermanence. Then, the monks will lead a ceremony from the house of the family or temple after burial or cremation as a closing procession.

CHRISTIANITY

In the Christian faith it is traditional that there is a service where the body is being viewed so those friends and family members can pay their respect to the deceased and the surviving family of the deceased. The Christian faith does recognize cremation as well as entombment and earth burial. At the viewing service it is customary to pass in front of the casket and then to acknowledge the family members that are sitting in the front of the room. Flowers and religious gifts are a sign of respect to the deceased and there family, as well as donations to a charity of your choice or one that is set up by the family. Usually a Christian service can last any were from 1-5 days for viewing and burial, after the viewing is completed there is a prayer service that is done and will typically take place in the funeral home or in the church if one is chosen. Directly after the prayer service there is a procession of cars that are led by the funeral director and the hearse to the cemetery or crematory where a Priest says a prayer and a eulogy may be spoken and then the deceased is laid to rest. After the funeral is completed there is usually a social gathering where family and friends gather to grieve and mourn. Food is customary to bring however it is not required unless you have been asked or committed specifically.

GREEK ORTHODOX

There is usually an open casket at the funeral ceremony. When Greek Orthodox view the body they bow in front of the casket and kiss a cross or an icon that is placed on the chest of the deceased; at the grave where the deceased will be laid to rest there is a 5 minute prayer followed by all attendants of the funeral to place a flower on the casket. A memorial service will be held on the Sunday closest to the 40th day after the death.


JUDAISM

There are different types of practice within the Jewish religion. They are Orthodox, Reconstructionist, Reform and Conservative. A Jewish funeral will last anywhere from 15 to 60 minutes and this would be a time of grieving and mourning .Orthodox believe in the physical life after death and the resurrection where Reform do not believe in life after death or any type of resurrection. The Reconstructionist does not believe in a body resurrection but simply that the body rejoins the universe, and the Conservative speaks about the resurrection of the dead but does not explain whether it is physical or spiritual.

There is never an open casket, and the service is solely spoken by a Rabbi who might recite a eulogy or recites prayers and guides the family in the mourners Kaddish which is a prayer for the deceased. In Reform ceremonies flowers are allowed but for Conservative, Reconstructionist, and Orthodox flowers are never appropriate, so instead of flowers, contributions to a charity may be given or the family might have set up a special charity in the deceased name or simply to a Jewish organization such as the Jewish National Fund which plants a tree in Israel in the deceased’s name and will send a letter to the family of the deceased to let them know that you have done this. Traditional Jewish faith does not allow cremation but it is accepted among the Reform following. A family will sit for seven days after the funeral; this is called “Shiva”. Tradition says an immediate family member is supposed to sit on a small chair or a box wearing a Cria Ribbion that has been cut in honor of the deceased during Shiva.

HINDUISM

The Hindu Faith believes in cremation only. Their belief does not involve a funeral home however a Funeral Director oversees the entire process. The funeral ceremony takes place at the home of the deceased were it is customary to wear white clothes, this will all take place within 24 hours of the death and then the deceased is taken to the crematory were the cremation process is done. Before the body is cremated there is a last food offering to the deceased. The cremation process is called 'Mukhagni'. Typically, the funeral process is participated by immediate family and a Hindu Priest; it is not customary for friends to attend.

MUSLIM

Muslim belief is that the dead human body should be respected and not harmed in any way. After death the body of the deceased is washed and anointed with scents, the washing is done by the family members, men wash the bodies of men and women wash the bodies of the women, when there is the death of a child a man or woman may take place in the washing ritual, there is an exception to a man washing the body of men and the same for women, this is when there is a lose of a spouse. A husband may wash his wife and the wife may do the same for her husband. After the washing of the body the body is placed in a plain white shroud were the head and the feet are tied with a piece of the same shroud, it is tied in such a way were the head and feet can not be distinguished from one another.

The burial usually happens within 24 hours and gives reason for preplanned funeral arrangements relieving the stress on the family. Silence is recommended for most of the funeral proceedings which take place outside of a mosque. The deceased is laid in the grave on his or her right side without a casket if permitted by law with their head facing the Muslim holy city of Mecca in the capital city of Saudi Arabia. At the gravesite, it is discouraged for people to place flowers, headstones or markers. There is typically a mourning period of three days and according to the Quran if there is a surviving widow there is an extended mourning period of 4 months and 10 days for which the widow may not remarry, move, nor wear jewelry or decorative clothing. Often there is a special meal to remember the deceased attended by friends and family and it is appropriate to send flowers after the funeral.


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