Thursday, December 23, 2010

Funerals - Rituals Of Relinquishing In Various Faith Systems

By Anna Lott

Dying is part of being alive as a human being. Dying is a part of the wheel of life. In each dying, there are those who pass away and there are those who grieve their loss. To assist those who are left behind to come to terms with the death of their loved ones, all religions have a ritual of relinquishing. The funeral is the rite that permits people to come to terms with their loved one's passing away.

Funerals throughout the world are performed by following several customs, rites and rituals. Funeral offers a chance to the family of the deceased person to pray for him and learn to cope with their loss and sorrow.

Christian funerals follow the rites of the Church. However, there are more than 200 different factions of Christianity that have their own different customs and rituals relating to the funeral service.

The first and foremost custom in a Christian funeral that is organized before the actual service is held relates to gathering around the deceased for a night and chanting prayers for the departed soul. This important tradition is known as wake. As per the present day customs, this is when the relatives and acquaintances pay a last visit to the deceased and offer homage for the last time. The body is properly preserved and kept either inside a Church or at the residence, and the time of visit is specified. In earlier times, the deceased was sought to be absolved of his sins of this birth by carrying out the process of absolution after wake. This involved placing a cross on the deceased's body and offertory in the casket, where gifts offered were kept.

Next comes the main ceremony, which starts with the bringing of the deceased's body to the Church in a hearse and is followed by recitation of hymns and prayers from the Bible. Then, the priest requests a friend or family member to give a eulogy or tribute to the departed's life. In certain cases funeral rituals include the ringing of bells to signify the end of the ceremony. When the funeral proceedings are over, the casket with the body is transported to the burial site and burial service is held before the final burial.

Finally, the family members organize a lunch for everyone who has attended the funeral. The main purpose of this custom is to partake in the grief of the family and help them deal and come to terms with the loss.

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