Beliefnet


Baha'i
Belief about death
Death is regarded as a 'messenger of joy' for the deceased. Baha'is believe the soul lives on after the body's death and embarks on a spiritual journey.

Funeral practices
Baha'i dead must be buried within an hour's travel distance from the place of death. Baha'is do not embalm or cremate their dead. The dead body is washed and wrapped in a shroud. Baha'is are often buried wearing a Baha'i burial ring. The only ceremonial requirement of a funeral is the recitation of the Prayer for the Dead.

Mourning rituals
There are no Baha'i mourning rituals.

More Online:
  • A Baha'i View of Life After Death
  • Baha'i World: Life, Death and the Soul
  • Baha'i Prayer for the Dead

    Buddhism
    Belief about death
    Death of the physical body is certain, but only a part of an ongoing process of re-incarnation until one receives enlightenment. After death it is believed that the dead person goes through a transformation in which they discover death, and prepare for their rebirth (if there is one).

    Funeral practices
    In early times and commonly today, Buddhists cremate the bodies of their dead. The first seven days after death are the most important for final and funereal prayer.

    Mourning rituals
    Prayers are said weekly, during a 49-day funeral period. It is during this period that the prayers of the mourners are believed to help the deceased during the post-death transformation and awaken their spirit to the true nature of death.

    More on Beliefnet:
  • A Buddhist Meditation on Death

    More online:
  • Buddhist Funeral Rites

    Catholicism
    Belief about death
    Catholics see death as a passage from this life to the new, everlasting life promised by Christ. The soul of the deceased goes on to the afterlife, which includes Purgatory as well as Heaven and Hell. According to Catholic belief, the bodies of the dead will be resurrected at the end of time.

    Funeral practices
    The Catholic funeral service is called the Mass of the Resurrection. During it, Jesus Christ's life is remembered and related to that of the deceased. Eulogies are not allowed during the funeral mass, but may be delivered at a wake or other non-religious ceremony. There is also a final graveside farewell, and additional traditions depending on the region. The Church encourages Catholics to be buried in Catholic cemeteries. In 1963, the Vatican lifted the ban on cremation for Catholics. However, the cremains must be interred, not scattered or kept at home.

    Mourning rituals
    The community and the church support mourners through the funeral mass and through non-religious services like wakes.

    More on Beliefnet:
  • Catholic Rituals for the Dying

    More online:
  • Catholic Funeral Guidelines
    Eastern Orthodox
    Belief about death
    Orthodox Christians believe believe death is a necessary consequence of human life, due to original sin. Death is necessary to achieve everlasting life.

    Funeral practices
    The Eastern Orthodox hold a special vigil over the dead called the parastasis or panikhida, as a time of contemplation on death. The funeral service includes hymns, chants, and bible readings. Burial is preferred but the Orthodox Church allows cremation if the law of the country requires it.

    Mourning rituals
    Orthodox Christians pray special prayers for the departed asking God to have mercy on the souls of the dead.

    More online:
  • Parastasis Prayer Vigil
  • Eastern Orthodox Funeral Service

  • Eastern Orthodox Cremation Service
  • Prayers for the Departed

    Hinduism
    Belief about death
    Hindus believe death is part of the continuing cycle of birth, life, death, and rebirth. The soul of the dead transfers to another body after death.

    Funeral practices
    Hindus generally cremate their dead. In preparation for cremation, the body is bathed, laid in a coffin, adorned with sandalwood paste and garlands, and wrapped in white cloth. In the cremation ceremony, the body is carried three times counterclockwise around the pyre, then placed upon it. The chief mourner hits the cremation switch.

    Mourning rituals
    The days of mourning are considered a time of ritual impurity. Mourners cover all religious pictures in the house and do not attend festivals or visit swamis or take part in marriage ceremonies. Mourning period length varies, though Hindu scriptures caution against excessive mourning.

    More on Beliefnet:
  • Hindu Rites of Transition

    Islam
    Belief about death
    Muslims believe that there is another world after death for which the believer should prepare during their lives on earth.

    Funeral practices
    The corpse is bathed, wrapped in a plain cloth (called a kafan). The deceased is buried in the ground after the funeral service. Only burial in the ground is allowed according to Shari' ah (Islamic law).

    Mourning rituals
    Mourners gather and offer Janazah, prayers for the forgiveness of the deceased. Once the body is buried, Muslim mourners offer one final Janazah prayer.

    More online:
  • Understanding Islam

    Judaism
    Belief about death
    Jews believe death in this life will eventually lead to resurrection in a world to come.

    Funeral practices
    The dead are buried as soon as possible. The body is washed to purify it, dressed in a plain linen shroud. The casket, a plain wooden coffin, remains closed after the body is dressed. The body is watched over from time of death till burial, as a sign of respect. The kaddish, a prayer in honor of the dead, is said.

    Mourning rituals
    There is an intense seven-day mourning period, called shiva, following the burial. Mourners traditionally rent their garments as a symbol of grief. Today, people often wear a black ribbon instead of tearing their clothes. Mourners also cover mirrors, sit on low stools, and avoid wearing leather. The full mourning period lasts a year, after which mourners observe the dead's yahrzeit, or yearly anniversary of the death.

    More on Beliefnet:
  • The Ties That Bind
  • Jewish Burial Societies

    More online:
  • The Jewish Life Cycle: Death

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