Death Customs And Beliefs Essay, Research Paper
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 are all 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.
In an Aborigine tribe, when a person is dying, the village is very quiet and calm. They believe a dead person is like a poison and will cause bad hunting. They feel that a death is always a murder, there are no natural causes. The relatives of the dead are responsible for finding the murderer. They would have to question everyone. After a person dies, everyone in the camp raise up a wailing, and shows their pain of mourning. Something they would do this so they would not be suspected of the murder. Once the person is dead, they spread red earth on the body, which looks like the bloodshed at birth. This shows that the person is being reborn into a New World. Then, they placed the body in a tree and after three months, the body is removed, and the bones are cleaned. The aborigines try to help the dead on their way to the spirit world. In this way, they show caring towards the dead of their tribe.
The Christians of Ireland do things differently however. When someone dies, they are kept in a ?wake house,? which is traditionally the house where they lived and died. The people would put salt on the bed, which was believed to keep evil and ghosts away from the mourners. Candles are placed around the bed. The people walk into the room, say a prayer for the dead, and then share a smoke. The tobacco was important to relax the mourners. The friends and family talked about how great the person was, and this helped them to not forget their sorrow. Later, they put the body in a coffin and carry it to the graveyard.
The Islamic religion also deals with death in a different way. Islamic people believe in a peace from total submission to and acceptance of the one and only God, Allah, and His will. People who submit themselves to Allah are Muslims and they believe that their lives on this earth are only a transition that precedes their afterlife. They believed that the dead who were left without burials and those whose death was not avenged were left with their spirits wandering and thirsty. Stone gravestones are placed away from the people because they fear the dead. After someone dies, they wash the body. They close the eyes, tie up the jaw, and tie the clothes tightly. The body must be facing Mecca, and it must be placed on its right side.
The Dakota Indians practice one of the more odd rituals. They moan and wail. Aside from that, the women gash their legs and arms until blood flows. The men blacken their faces with ash. The deceased is dressed in fine clothes. They believe that the dead people are reborn. The Dakota Indians build platforms where the dead a placed with their favorite things. They believe that the dead might want to come back if something is forgotten.
Almost all cultures have beliefs in ghosts. To primitive societies, a ghost was like a ?bomb,? to the living. All of their rites and ceremonies were to keep the ?bombs? from going off. They wanted to make sure the spirits stayed in the next world, safely away from the living. People feared that they could catch death from the jealous dead. Certain ghosts were believed to be more powerful and feared more than others, especially leaders and strong men who died in their prime. The people felt that those people had the most to lose when they died, so they became more envious as ghosts.
Cultures also try to scare away other ghosts at the graveyard. Some practices beat on the grave, shoot guns, ring funeral bells, and wail loudly to scare them. Although there have been exceptions, the general rule has always been to keep spirits way from the living, and avoid them at all costs. Ghosts were thought to be stubborn and mean.
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 and needs. All descend from the same ancestry cultures. Along with understanding the beliefs and customs of other cultures, we can obtain better understanding and learning about our own culture and heritage.