Religious Customs

Religious Customs

For an overview of all world religions visit beliefnet.com.


Bahá’í
Bahá’í followers view life on earth as a preparation for life in the next world. Embalming is not allowed, and cremation is forbidden. Interment must take place within one hour’s drive from the place where death occurs.As there are no clergy in the Bahá’í religion, the service is conducted by the family or other Bahá’í members and would take place either at a Baha’i chapel or at the grave side. Women and men are permitted to sit together and no head covering is required. It is considered appropriate to send flowers or cards. Attendees should dress respectfully, according to their culture. Mourners would usually wear dark colours and no makeup.


Buddhism
Most Buddhist funerals take place in a funeral home, not a temple. It is appropriate to send flowers. Only one night of viewing the body is held and this generally takes place the evening before the funeral. Shoes are left on; footwear is removed only in temples.Inside the funeral home, a table is set up with candles and incense which burn until the body is moved to the cemetery. The family sits at the front of the room in which the casket is placed. Visitors greet the family, offer their condolences, then go to the casket and bow. They may then either stay and sit for a while or leave, according to personal preference. Visitors will often make a financial donation to the family.

The funeral service, held the following day, is conducted by a monk. There will be a lot of prayers and chanting in which visitors are not expected to participate. Men and women sit together. No headgear is required.
While white is the colour of grieving for the family, friends often wear black.


Christianity: Roman Catholic
There are many cultural variations in the practise of Roman Catholicism, but there are some constants. One such constant is that the body is usually viewed in a funeral home, then transported to a church for a funeral mass.At some point during visiting hours in a funeral home, official prayers will be led by a priest. Visitors may join in, or sit quietly, but it’s considered disrespectful to talk or to leave. The prayers usually lasts about 15 minutes.

Catholic adherents bow at the knee when they enter the church, a gesture which a non-believer should not imitate. Only believers should take communion, but everyone should rise and kneel at appropriate times throughout the service.

Friends of the family will often send flowers, sympathy cards and/or give donations. Catholics may also purchase mass cards which would be displayed in the funeral home.

Only those closest to the family would go to the cemetery.


Christianity: Protestant
While there are a multitude of denominations within Protestantism, all revolve around the Christian theme that there is life after death.Funeral services most commonly take place at a funeral home, although some may be held in a church. There are generally visiting hours arranged one day prior to the actual funeral. Funerals usually take place within three days of the death.

Sending flowers, cards and charitable donations in the name of the deceased are appropriate displays of sympathy to the family. Today, it’s unusual for people to wear the colour black, or to cover their head.

A minister will usually conduct the service, although increasingly there is more participation from family and friends in the actual service. Visitors are not expected to participate, although some services include a time for spontaneous testimonials about the life of the deceased.

Funerals held by members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (commonly referred to as “Mormons”), although solemn and grieving occasions, also project a spirit of hope based on anticipation of reunion with the deceased after this life. Services are usually held in an LDS chapel or a mortuary under the direction of the local church leaders. Circumstances also may dictate a memorial service or a graveside service only. The service would open and close with sacred music and prayer, sometimes involving congregational singing or a choir, and usually include reminiscences and eulogies as well as talks about Jesus Christ’s Atonement and Resurrection, life after death, and related doctrines that comfort and inspire the bereaved. Some families choose to have members or friends of the family talk about the life of the deceased or sing an appropriate hymn.Traditionally, a simple graveside dedication service is held following the funeral service, attended by family and intimate friends. Local law in some countries may dictate cremation rather than burial, but in the absence of such a law, burial is preferred because of its doctrinal symbolism.**

Often there will be a reception or luncheon held following the services where friends may greet and offer condolences to the family. Cards and flowers are considered appropriate.


Hinduism
Hindus try to hold a funeral service before the sun goes down on the day of the death. Traditionally, this is conducted by the first-born son.The service is held at a funeral home. Flowers may be sent, although this is not considered a tradition. Mourners would wear white; visitors are expected simply to wear subdued colours.

At the funeral, the family may lay flowers on the deceased.

All Hindus are cremated. A short service also takes place at the crematorium. Afterward, the family is expected to enter a period of formal grieving for at least 13 days (depending on the caste of the family).


Islam
Muslims try to bury their dead as soon as possible, usually within a day of death. The funeral service always takes place in a mosque. Women and men sit separately and women must wear a veil or scarf and loose clothing. Both sexes sit on the floor, having left their shoes at the door.The service is short and consists of ritual chanting and recitation from the Koran.

Before being taken to a cemetery for burial, visitors and mourners would file past the body to pay their last respects. Those close to the family wear black. Sending flowers and cards is appropriate.

After a short ceremony at the burial grounds, visitors return to the mosque for more prayers and the offering of additional consolation to the family. Later, a meal would be eaten at the mosque.


Sikhism
Funerals usually take place within 48 hours of death. They are held at a funeral home, not a gurdwara (temple). While men and women sit separately in a temple, this is not necessarily so at a funeral home.Headgear is required for both sexes. A scarf covering the head is adequate for men and women.

At the funeral service, passages from Guru Granth Sahib (the Sikh holy book) are read and prayers are offered. Relatives and close friends are not supposed to cry but are to recite scriptural hymns.

Sending flowers or a card is appropriate.


First Nations Culture
Living Our Smudge The elders tell us that there is more than one way to pray… this is one way that I pray. There is no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ way to smudge. The elders tell us to listen to our spirit and follow it while we pray in our own way.I smudge my hands so that I do good work and kind and loving acts in my life.

I smudge my head so that I remember the things that I need to remember in order to stay on my sacred journey

I smudge my ears so that I hear things, in the way that I was meant to hear them. Also, so that I will hear things that I am meant to hear.

I smudge my eyes so that I will focus on the good things in people rather than the negative. Everyone is a sacred gift to the world. I look to see those gifts.

I smudge my mouth so that good words, kind words will be spoken.  My elder says… ‘Our words are like bullets— They can kill someone’s spirit in an instant. Once they are out of your mouth, you cannot take them back. Use your words with care.

I smudge my body so that I am physically protected as I walk my journey.

I smudge behind me so that I remember where I am from. Where I have been in my life. I remember the lessons of my ancestors, my parents and also the lessons that I have learned on my own journey on this earth.

I smudge my heart. I ask that my spirit be protected while I walk my journey and I also remember  to ask that all I do, be motivated by love.