Knowing how a culture views death and how it remembers the deceased helps us understand many things about that particular country and its people. Any time you plan on visiting a country outside your own, it is good to learn about the basic thought patterns regarding things such as birth, marriage and death. In the post, we will look at the latter. Here are few practices surrounding the deceased in other cultures.
In the philosophical Vedic text, the Bhagavad Gita – a narrative framework of a dialogue between Pandava prince Arjuna and his guide and charioteer Krishna – Krishna explains that at death the soul passes into another body. Thus, the idea of reincarnation starts here. Hindus traditionally cremate their dead on funeral pyres, usually on the banks of the Ganges or other sacred river. The ashes are then scattered there so that the cycle of reincarnation can be continued. Priests preside over the burning of the body and bargain over the price of each verse of the Vedas, which is the sacred text, to be recited. This guarantees that their souls will be released from this world
In 1829, the British banned the sati, which was a part of this ceremony that involved a widow throwing herself on her husband’s funeral pyre. This ban left widows shunned by society and unable to remarry, even if they were very young. And even though the practice in illegal, there are rare occasions where sati is still performed so too is the practice of stigmatizing widows who do not follow this practice.
On the other hand, Muslims view death differently than Hindus. They believe in resurrection after death and they believe in both heaven and hell. For this reason, it is customary in Muslim communities for survivors to bury the dead rather than cremate them. Whatever the religion, rituals assigned to the dead are full of tradition, often going back hundreds of years. Our ceremonies in the West are not as ritualistic as they are in other countries but of course they are just as important in giving survivors a chance to express their grief and show their reverence for the dead. A simple way to do this is with an engraved wind chime or memorial wind chime. Thus, the sound they make as the wind stirs them can be a gentle reminder of loved ones now departed from us.