How do different cultures deal with time

Mourning rituals in other countries and cultures

In Germany death is generally regarded as the end, in other cultures it is just a transition to another world.

© dpa

In many cultures death is associated with the transition to another world. Mourning rituals are supposed to honor the deceased and to make the farewell easier for the bereaved.

Death and Sorrow in Buddhism

In Buddhism it is believed that a person's body is only borrowed in order to do something meaningful in it on earth. If a person dies, he leaves it and later receives a new one. Cremation is common. While the dead person is at home, no meals may be prepared, only tea and coffee may be made. Friends, relatives and neighbors provide the funeral food. There are no fixed burial rituals. The ashes of the dead are often given over to the water. Burials are also common in Indochina and China.

Death and Sorrow in Hinduism

Hindus are burned and their ashes are scattered in the sacred rivers. Belief in rebirth calls for the destruction of the physical shell in order to free the soul for the next life. On the fourth day after the cremation, the ashes are scattered in a holy river. If the relatives cannot afford firewood, the corpse is given to the water. Brahmin priests, children and pregnant women are buried in the ground or given to a holy river, their body does not stand in the way of their rebirth.

Mourning and Death in Islam

For Muslims, the dead should be buried on the same day if possible. First the corpse is bathed and wrapped in a white robe. The dead man should walk again as he came out of the womb. In the grave he lies facing Mecca. Cremation is not allowed. Standing prayers are said at the grave. Gravestones are not common. Parishioners care for the family for the first three days after death. In the 40 days after the death, the family is said to wear mourning clothes. Their period of mourning ends with a meal, a visit to the grave and the distribution of donations. The ritual is repeated one year after death.

Mourning rituals in the USA

In the United States, it is customary to embalm the corpse in an open coffin for a laying out or a funeral service. An alternative is immediate cremation. The relatives can take the ashes of the deceased and bury them according to their spiritual needs. That happens less and less in cemeteries. The mostly large lawns and standardized stone slabs look very impersonal there.

Mourning rituals in Cuba

In Cuba, the corpse is also laid out in the house, but is buried free of charge within 24 hours in either a private or a state grave site. After three years, the bones are reburied. The tombstones are richly decorated in many places. The graves are decorated with flowers. The famous Cristóbal Colón cemetery in Havana is even a pilgrimage site.

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Source: Otto Berg Burials

| Updated: November 29, 2017

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