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Death Rituals of Different Cultures and Countries
Death Rituals of different Cultures/Countries
As the globe is full of numerous civilizations and cultures in a very diverse manner, similarly, their rituals, traditions and ceremonies related to life and death are also different from one another. The people belonging to these cultures have their own sets of beliefs that are witnessed through the ways they celebrate their occasions, festivals and even the death rituals However, considering the diverse cultures from all around the world, the thesis report tends to focus on two cultures for their death ceremonies and rituals: Egyptian and Hindu (Indian) civilizations.
Taking into account, the Egyptian culture, the records reveal the fact that these people have tremendously belief on their religion. Due to being so religious people, they have complicated and detailed death and burial rituals. Moreover, the populace of Egyptian civilization has complex values and beliefs pertaining to the subject of life after death. The concepts and ideology of life after death is the corner stone of their burial and death rituals. Historical evidences and records also exhibit that religion is the source of origin for Egyptian civilization, and their customs, beliefs and traditions related to life after death are the key driving force on which their funeral practices are based (Assmann, 2005).
According to beliefs and traditions of Egyptian people, eternal life is the ultimate goal of every individual and death is only a way through and not the end of the life, which the souls must experience that can help them reaching the level of the eternal life. Therefore, Egyptians conserve the dead body (through the process of mummifying) as the mandatory procedure to accomplish the eternal life. The process of mummification involves three main procedural steps (Assmann, 2005).
The tomb is the actual place where the mummies are characteristically placed. Besides, they also keep other items that are considered vital, as it would come in use for the dead individuals in the afterlife according to the beliefs of Egyptians. During the first step of mummification, the internal organs are removed except for the heart and skeleton. These organs are then placed in jars, which at later stage is placed in the tomb (Assmann, 2005).
The body is dried out in the second step by stuffing the body with a mixture of substances that absorbs the fluid within the body. The process of drying out the body is completed within forty-five days, which is then equipped to be enfolded by linen. The amulets or charms are placed in between the layers of the linen when the body is being wrapped, which is later placed in the decorated coffin. At this point, when the amulets are being placed, the priest prays for the dead person (Assmann, 2005).
At the end of this process, the body is masked and kept until the time of the funeral ceremony. However, the relatives of the dead individual are informed for the final procession where priests chant hymns during the ceremony. Lastly, the body of the dead person in placed in the casket or coffin, which is put in the tomb that ends the entire ceremony (Assmann, 2005).
Looking at the other culture, that is Indian or Hindu culture is again a very ancient civilization that has their own set of beliefs and traditions from the birth till death. Hindus also have a strong belief on the concept of life after death, which is in their holy book as well. According to their ideology, the soul moves on to the next level of his or her existence at the time of the death. The Hindu culture is based on the religion and its practices and many rites and rituals related to death is practiced with the prime intention to depart the soul in a peaceful intersect to the next level (DuBois & Beauchamp, 2007).
Cremation is the traditional and customary practice for dealing with the dead for most of the Hindus, however, it has been analyzed that many of the groups or casts practice the burial system as their death rituals. Moreover, the records also demonstrate that the Hindus apply the burial system for the infants instead of cremation (DuBois & Beauchamp, 2007).
The relatives of the dead individual usually perform the ceremonies of the body preparation and procession to the burial ground. The Hindus give bath to the dead person and covers them with new clothes and is decorated with flower garland or wreath. The deceased member is applied oil on the forehead by the family members. The male members of the family and neighborhood takes the deceased person to the burial ground, and the women are normally not allowed to accompany them (DuBois & Beauchamp, 2007).
The final death ceremony is completed at the cremation ground, where the dead person is placed on the wooden logs. The closest relative (usually the eldest son) spread the ghee at seven different places on the deceased body that are considered to be imperative. Additionally, he also keeps a coin on the forehead of the dead member. The son also puts few grains of rice and til into the mouth of the dead person (DuBois & Beauchamp, 2007).
Ghee is also sprinkled all over the wooden logs that are over the body. The son holds a pot of water and moves seven times around the body and breaks it near the feet of the dead body. The son then lights the Agni (fire) in hand and put it on the body, with the priest chanting the hymn (DuBois & Beauchamp, 2007).
After the cremation is complete, the family members collect the ashes and fragments of bone and finally submerge it in the holy river. For certain days, the immediate family members stay in a condition of intense pollution and have to follow many rules. When the period is over, ceremonial meal takes place amongst the family members. Additionally, they have to bestow gifts or charities to the poor (DuBois & Beauchamp, 2007).
From the above description of the death rituals and ceremonies of the two cultures (Egyptian and Hinduism), the common aspect between the two that has come to determination is the concept of life after death. In addition, for both the cultures and civilizations the ceremonies conducted for the dead person is equally important because both through their distinct rituals want the soul of the deceased person to reach the next level of his or her existence (Matthews, 2011).
While looking at the other end of the spectrum, both the cultures and countries have numerous differences with reference to their traditional rites and ceremonies of the death. This is particularly due to the reason that both the cultures apply very different practices for death from each other, where the Hindus believe and practice cremation and Egyptians preserve the bodies, convert it into mummies and bury them (Matthews, 2011).
One of the common differences between the two cultures is that the entire burial process in Egyptians is a very expensive and time consuming process, as the conversion of the dead body into mummy takes a very long time, due to which the entire ritual is prolonged. However, the death rituals for Hindus are not so expensive and are rather less time consuming in contrast to the Egyptian culture (Matthews, 2011).
The immediate family members of the deceased person in Hindus are bound with certain rules that they must follow for a specific period (usually 13 days after the death of the family member). For instance, they cannot be a part of any religious functions, have restrictions on consumption of various foods like sweets, they cannot wear new clothes and so forth. On the other hand, Egyptians do not undergo any such restrictions after the death of their family member (Matthews, 2011).
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