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Religious funeral rites

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For Buddhists, death is part of the life cycle. The relatives who remain alongside the deceased during his last moments expresses no pain so he can separate from this world with confidence. In the Tibetan tradition, the deceased’s body can not be touched for three and a half days, so that the process is not affected when consciousness leaves the body. During 49 days after the death, the time for which the deceased could be reborn in a new form, Buddhists do rituals every seven days, with prayers and offerings. Buddhist rather go in stupas, which are places of prayer and remembrance. They also come near the altar which is granted to Buddha, an ancestral altar. Some even keep some ashes of the deceased. They mix it with clay used to make figurines, which subsequently are blessed and consecrated in the name of the deceased. This way, he can have a good rebirth. To protect children and help dead children, Buddhists invoke the Japanese Jizo Bodhisattva. It is requested especially during the Dead celebration. Mothers put red bibs and hats on the statues, which means they have lost a child.


The agony

Once the signs of agony, it is recommended not to leave the dying (gossess). If it is forbidden for Jews to hasten death, except sometimes by prayer, it is mandated to comfort him by all possible means, and not prolong the agony.

The conscious dyings are encourages to confess their sins, express their last wishes (oral) and the latest recommendations for the family (the “blessings” in the Hebrew Bible).

There are blessing devoted to death during the approach and thereof. As soon as the death is established, Chevra Kaddisha must be prevented and request the transfer of the deceased person at home to ensure the reciting Psalms. This task is usually entrusted to a member of the Chevra Kaddisha rather than close to the missing person. Two hours after death, he is deposited on the ground, covered with a sheet, the feet toward the door, and a candle near the head or feet.


Purification (tahara) is a funeral toiletries made with great modesty and respect for the deceased by the Chevra Kaddisha.

Prayers and sections of the Bible (Song of Songs, Psalms …) can be read. After washing, the deceased is coated with takhrikhim, white sheets evoking the clothes of the High Priest, equivalent to the shroud, and gently deposited on a bed of straw in the coffin of the bottom (which, in Hebrew, it is names Aron, like Aron Hakodesh, in which are placed the Torah scrolls). In the Diaspora, it is customary to put a handful of sand from the land of Israel, because that is where, according to tradition, the Messiah will resurrect the dead. Once purified and clothed body, the coffin is sealed, after the relatives have apologized to their disappeared, without touching him, so as not to desecrate it. In Israel, a widespread custom is to use no coffin, but to cover the body with a thicker takhrikhim, covered by a tallit (for men).

The vigil of the body

After the “tahara” when the funeral cannot take place the day of the death (as done in Israel), it performs a “shemira” (“vigil“) of the body.

A shomer can be a member of the Chevra Kadisha, but more generally, anyone, preferably not near the patient (who is mourning), which ensures that the body of the missing person is not desacred and reciting Tehillim (Psalms) for the elevation of his soul until the burial.

The liftingof the body

The ceremony is presided over by a rabbi, who reads the Psalms, in the presence of family and friends came to pay tribute to the missing person. It is expected that the coffin left the home or the morgue before accompanying, on foot or by car if the road is long to the cemetery. At the cemetery, the coffin was escorted until the last residence, scoring stops, during which certain sound of the Shofar, because, according to tradition, the Messiah will ring in the resurrection of the dead. There is no welcome and no answer until the burial. If you have a relative buried in the cemetery, one fails to visit during the burial (before or after it is allowed).

The Levaya (burial)

Levaya does not mean exactly burial but Accompaniment (of death). It is done without flowers or wreaths and without music. In the Ashkenazi tradition, it is recited a blessing upon entering the cemetery (if it is not made for a month). Then he went to a room where the rabbi say the hesped (eulogy). The dead man’s feet are moved forward. Psalm 91 is recited at the cemetery convoy, hachkava and the El Male Rahamim. Rabbi throw three shovels of soil, imitated by relatives and assistants. Once filled the pit, it is recited the Kaddish lehidhadeta, then Tzidouk Haddine. Then there are consoled the bereaved with the formula “Hamaqom yéna’hem etkhèm bètokh shear avelé Tzion viYroushalaïm” (“That the Place console you among the mourners of Zion and Jerusalem”). Leaving the cemetery, some snapped a handful of grass (symbolizing the resurrection). Hands are washed without wiping. In the Sephardic tradition, Psalm 91 is added to the prayer of Rabbi Nehounia bar Haqana and, in the case of a woman, the Eshet ‘Hayil (valiant woman). This is when it is practiced qeri’ah (tear). The consolation of prayer is a little longer.


Gallo-Romans and Merovingians

Before the widespread practice of Christian burial (because of the symbol of the Entombment of Christ and belief in the resurrection), the separation between the living and the dead by extramural cemeteries is common (but it suffers numerous exceptions), as in ancient Rome: extramural burial areas are also home to many urns as sarcophagi, wooden or stone molds made in situ in the pit, associated with a characteristic grave goods (ceramics, brooches, rings, beads). By the end of the third century, believers are building chapels and churches on the tomb of saints and martyrs to celebrate but also to be buried near their bodies or their relics: This ad sanctos burial (“near the Saints”) that goes against the official doctrine expressed in the treatise De cura pro mortuis gerenda written around 421 by St Augustine, can benefit from their virtues.

From the sixth century it is generalized the construction of churches and chapels used as tombs, this practice is parallel to the evolution of mentalities which now equates either dead not as a corpse but a dormant body. Although the barrel 33 enacted by Ist Council of Braga in the sixth century prohibited burials in churches, this law is transgressed excessively by the clergy and dignitaries. In the tombs of Frankish warriors, officially Catholic from the baptism of Clovis (around 496), the use to be buried near the tomb of a saint, in the aisle or near the basilicas, is becoming more common. The bodies are buried with arms along the body, legs slightly apart. Later, the position changes (arms crossed on his chest). The practice of Charons alms remains during the early Merovingian period, despite the progress of Christianity as shown by the example of burial X of Hérouvillette (Normandy Museum in Caen). The graves are arranged in rows (Merovingian character appeared at the end of the fourth century to the north of Gaul). The orientation of the first body is not fixed. In the fifth century, the feet are put to the east and head west.

Under the influence of the clergy, the Merovingian tradition of dressed burial with arms arranged along the body gradually loses during the eighth century approach, like that of the funeral armory (for men, jewelry for women) or ceramics. Only bishops, priests, kings and aristocrats remained buried their outfits dressed in ceremonial, with grave goods. The filing of food in the grave is increasingly rare. Gradually impose the Christian burial when the deceased is buried naked in a shroud with his hands folded or crossed on his stomach, religious symbol in phase with the Christianization. The cities shall have urban necropolis, while the Romans had rejected to the periphery.

During the central and late Middle Ages

The medieval hagiographers give an interpretation to the legendary Merovingian necropolis.

Medieval burial essentially carries on beer (from the Francisque bëra, “stretcher” carrying the dead to the grave), on the ground (earth burial in free with or without protective riprap), from the fifth century to the eighth century. This practice is gradually replaced by a burial pit with just protected corpse by a board, a formwork whose walls are maintained by stones (flint nodules, blocking chalk) or a wooden coffin (nailed or pegged) for the wealthy, the sarcophagi being intended at that time to the characters at high social status.

From the fourteenth century, fear of decaying flesh and the disappearance of the body sees the re-emergence of burial in coffins in graves, funerary practice that permeates all levels of society, or in lead sarcophagus, which both allow better conservation of the body.

The ordinary or Pauline rite

Upon dying, the priest goes to the patient to administer extreme unction, part of the 7 sacraments of Christian life. Initially, extreme unction was administered by a priest to patients so they heal. After the twelfth century, the ritual included prayer, anointing and the laying on of hands. Extreme unction is not reserved for the dying, contrary to conventional wisdom.

Since the Second Vatican Council, extreme unction was called sacrement of the sick persons and can be administered to believers who request it when they are suffering from a serious illness, to attract divine benevolence and healing their evil.

Family, relatives and friends of the deceased gather in the church for the celebration of an Eucharist (Mass). The songs and prayers are chosen by the family, which is often called to participate in the ceremony by reading appropriate texts.

A funeral procession(A funeral procession at the funeral of a Catholic religious dignitary in 1922 in France)

The special or traditional rite

Funeral rite (Funeral rite with flowers and wreaths)

According to the Tridentine rite (from the Council of Trent in the sixteenth century), it also provides for the celebration of a “Mass (votive) to implore the grace of a good death.” The priest gives papal blessing (with plenary indulgence at time of death). The confiteor is recited, the prayers for the dying. When the patient passed away, they sing or recite the “Subvenite”. During the vigil (at home at the deceased or the funeral room), it is recited the rosary and it is sung the Salve Regina or any suitable hymn. On the raising of the body, the priest sprinkles holy water and recites or sings Psalm 129, De Profundis. By going to church, the Psalm 51, Miserere. At church, it is sung (except during the Easter Triduum or when the office is simply recited) the requiem then absolution. Then the corpse is carried in procession to the cemetery singing the In paradisum.

The ritual also includes:

  • an absolution of funeral without the body and the services of the 3rd, 7th and 30th day of the anniversary;
  • the solemn funeral, there are five absolutions.

Pope Benedict XVI has authorized the use of the liturgical books from 1962 by the motu proprio Summorum Pontificum.


Protestants do not pray for the dead; therefore the Protestant funerals are usually very simple. Traditionally, the pastor accompanied the family at the time of burial in the cemetery and a thanksgiving service is held at the temple, often in the absence of the body. Thank the Lord for the blessings are granted to the deceased during his life, and Bible reading and preaching emphasize the hope of eternal life.


The agony

The dying is ensured by an imam and relatives who recite the shahada, that is to say, the profession of faith of a Muslim, if the dying can not pronounce due to the hardness of agony. The raise of the index, symbolizing the oneness of God, is a sign of happy ending for death according to Islam.

The burial

It must be done diligently, in principle before sunset. Islam permits the burial in non-Muslim country, in a “Muslim section,” traditionally the mere presence of men to prevent women from attending a stage that can move them. The toilet of the deceased is with great modesty.

Translated from Wikipedia.org

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