Tuesday, January 12, 2010

The Rites In Christian Funerals

By Jeffrey Chen

Funerals are state of family ceremonies held after a person dies, in order to honour him. It involves a number of customs and rites that are specific to the religion of the dead person.

A majority of Christian funerals have rites that are divided into three essential parts - visitation, funeral and burial. The first two ceremonies, which are the most essential ones as far as ritualistic aspects are concerned, are discussed here.

The first and foremost part is visitation wherein the body is laid in a coffin for family and friends to see and bid their final adieu to the deceased. The body is clothed in the finest attire and adorned with precious jewellery. Some communities follow the rite of anointing the body, though not all cultures should compulsorily do it.

Some families like to display memories from the life of the dead person at visitation in the form of photographs and personal items that were prized belongings of the deceased. Some families also run a slide show or video of the deceased.

The visitation ceremony is followed by the second part of rituals, which is the memorial service, also known as funeral, and it is conducted in a church. The casket containing the body is put in a hearse and carried to the church with a funeral cortege of mourners, who follow the carriage. The casket is placed in the church with an elaborate floral arrangement on it.

Funeral services normally include chants and readings from the Holy Scriptures and the Bible. Religious songs are also sung by the mourners in chorus. This is followed by a speech by the priest presiding over the funeral service and tributes by the family and friends, who then share their personal thoughts about the deceased's life. Sometimes, attendees are permitted to view the deceased for the last time before it is taken for burial. Church bells may be chimed both before the service and after it.

Once these ceremonies are over, the body is taken in a funeral cortege for burial, which finally concludes the funeral ceremony.

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