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Death Customs and Beliefs in Different Cultures

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Introduction

Death Customs and Beliefs in Different Cultures Every culture is different. They all have their own beliefs, customs, and traditions. But, all people are the same. We all are born, live, and die. Every culture handles death a little differently. Even though all cultures have differences, all cultures share common beliefs and traditions with some other cultures. All of us are also human, and experience the same emotions when we deal with emotional situations, like death. But even though we all share the same emotions, people in different cultures handle them differently. By knowing about different cultures, and what they believe and do about death, we become better people and are better equipped to deal with people from these different backgrounds. There is evidence that tells us about the burial customs and practices of ancient man, dating back to Neanderthal times, all the way up to present day. Little is known about the Neanderthals and what they believed, but there is evidence that they buried their dead with flowers (Ann Turner, 3), much like we do today. This shows that the Neanderthals showed some emotion or concern over the dead. Most of the burial practices indicated that people in early times believed that the dead were "sleeping". For example, they would bind the dead bodies in a curled up position, and bury them facing the sunrise (Turner, 4). ...read more.

Middle

"Muslims have this common tendency to start everything from the right," commented Said. Even after they have died, they are washed starting from the right side (Ennahid, 2). When placed in the grave, a white shroud is commonly worn. Other colors are allowed, but not red. The eyes of the dead are closed, they tie up the jaw, and the clothes are tied tightly, but then loosened once the body is placed in the grave (Ennahid, 2). This is similar to many other religions. Both the Islamic and Christian religions close the eyes of the dead. Many religions in the past have bound their dead. They may have bound their dead for the reasons of fear of the dead, but it is more likely that they do it now more out of tradition than out of any real fear. When an Islamic funeral procession passes along a street, the people sitting along it are obligated to stand as it passes, as a sign of respect (Ennahid, 3). This is similar to the tradition in some Christian religions where passers-by walk along with the procession or say a prayer. People in both of these cultures show respect for other people's loved ones when they die. There are other, non-monotheistic religions, such as that of the Native Americans. ...read more.

Conclusion

The one thought of most in recent times is for respect, but the original purpose of a tomb(stone) is just as likely to have been to hinder spirits in affecting the living. Tombstones may go back to the belief that ghosts may be "weighed down" (Turner, 124). The spirit would be bound to the tombstone, and be unable to affect the living. Many tombs, walled up with boulders and mounds of earth may have been for the same purpose (Turner, 124). Another purpose of tombs is to confuse the spirit. An example of this is placing a maze in the entrance (or exit, from the ghost's point of view). This was believed to be very effective since it was also believed that ghosts can only travel in a straight line. Another way used to keep a ghost way was to build it a nice, comfortable "house" (Turner, 124). Although there have been exceptions, the general rule has always been to keep spirits away from the living, and avoid them at all costs. Ghosts were thought to be stubborn and mean (Turner, 125). Every culture has some things in common with some of the other cultures, and all cultures include the same type of humans, with the same type of fears, needs, and all descend from the same ancestry cultures. Along with understanding the beliefs and customs of other cultures, we can obtain better understanding just by understanding and learning about our own culture and heritage. ?? ?? ?? ?? ...read more.

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