Life is a roller coaster indeed, with its ups and downs. We sometimes find ourselves experiencing ecstasy and success while on some other days, we battle the grim depths of the hole that is failure and depression. Every roller coaster comes to an end and so does life. Death is inevitable but not many of us worry about this blatant truth until we experience the gut wrenching loss that death brings with it. The inexplicable pain of losing a loved one is incomparable. However, the least one can do to deal with this loss is to offer prayers and wishes of peace for the departed. Mankind has never really come to terms with facing death but it has devised methods to soothe the grieving and offer respects to the dead. And the best way to do this is a funeral service.
A funeral is a ceremony which is conducted to pay the last respects to the person who has passed away. It is a sacred ritual and is attended by all the loved ones who wish to honour the memory of the person. A funeral is a generic term and is applicable for all religions. As for the body, some choose to cremate it, while some choose burial, among various other practices. Let us look into the beliefs of various religions on this subject.
A Buddhist funeral signifies the transition from one life to another as Buddhist philosophy propagates the concept of reincarnation. Christianity practises burial of the deceased because it is believed that burial offers respect to the dead body. The Hindu offer the last rites by cremating the body and this has been derived from the ancient Vedas. These rites are said to return the body to the basic five elements of the universe. Islam follows burial and this is followed by a prayer. The ritual of bathing and shrouding the body is carried out as well. In Islam, cremation is strictly prohibited. The Jewish too believe in burial preceded by bathing and shrouding the body.
Readings from the Torah accompany this ritual and many communities also position the body in a certain fashion to allow resurrection. Sikhism does not regard death as a natural process but as something that is the will of the Almighty. A Sikh funeral takes place at the Gurudwara, where the body is bathed and dressed. Hymns are sung in groups and they are meant to offer respect to the dead and courage to the living. Cremation is the preferred method and the ashes are submerged in the five famous rivers of India.
There also exist services that handle the entire procedure of conducting a funeral since it is not always possible to make arrangements at the time of grief. For example, in Singapore, the following website specializes in arranging funeral services and taking care of every single detail: http://funeralguru.sg/funeral-in-singapore/
Whichever religion one may choose to follow, every human being is alike and will experience death at some point of time. While the specifics of the funeral practices may differ from religion to religion, it ultimately serves one sole purpose: to pay respect to the deceased, offer prayers and reminisce the precious memories that everyone shared with him/her. Every funeral is sacred and the grief of death often has the power to unite mankind in wondrous ways. After all, no differences in religion, caste, dialect or country can ever stand in the way of mourning a good person whose life came to an end.