Four Unique Religious Funeral Traditions
American short story writer O. Henry once said this about New York City: “It’ll be a great place if they ever finish it.” Gus Antonopoulos and our staff here at Farenga Funeral Home celebrate living in an area that is always changing and growing! All five boroughs reflect a melting pot of cultures, ethnic traditions, and religions. We count it a privilege to call Astoria and Greater Queens home, and are honored to serve our neighbors during their most difficult moments.
This includes a commitment to meeting the funeral, cremation, and burial needs of the families of all religions backgrounds. The expertise and diversity of experience on our team is unmatched. We have a deep knowledge of how different religions commemorate the death of a loved one, including their customs and rituals. Here, we’ll describe four traditions practiced by different religions, giving a glimpse into how families honor those who mean so much to them.
Buddhist Funeral Traditions
Buddhists generally favor cremation, and hold a simple ceremony for their loved one at the family home, funeral home, or Buddhist temple before or after the cremation. A monk officiates, leading prayers and meditations, and sometimes giving a sermon and eulogy. A photo of the person who died is set in front of the casket, with candles, other offerings, and an image of Buddha placed on the altar. While family members wear white to the funeral, friends often wear black. It is appropriate to give a donation to the family or a designated charity.
Jewish Funeral Traditions
According to Jewish practices, the funeral and burial need to take place as soon as possible after death. Cremation is typically forbidden. In between the moment of death and the funeral, someone is always sitting with their loved one, who is prepared for burial in a simple white shroud and placed in a wooden casket. The funeral is held in a synagogue, at the gravesite, or at a funeral home, with prayers, psalms, and eulogies delivered by family members or the rabbi. After the service, those in attendance visit the cemetery or interment site, where the rabbi will recite prayers, and all will join in to recite a mourner’s blessing.
Catholic Funeral Traditions
Catholic funerals are usually held in Catholic churches or the chapel of a Catholic assisted living center or care facility. Prior to the funeral, Catholics hold a vigil or wake to spend time in prayer, visit with family members, and pay tribute to their loved one, who may be present in an open or closed casket. A priest or deacon will perform a liturgy, featuring a sermon, hymns or religious songs, and readings including psalms and passages of Scripture. A lit candle celebrates the life of the person who died, and often, incense is burned to symbolize prayers rising to heaven.
Hindu Funeral Traditions
Hindu funerals take place in the home as soon as possible after death, usually within 24 hours. Loved ones dress in simple white clothes and do not speak to one another, preferring to nod or hug in sympathy. A Hindu priest officiates, paying homage with specially written chants or mantras. Cremation is customary because Hindus believe this is the fastest way to liberate the soul. Traditionally, Hindus have their cremated remains spread on the waters of the Ganges River in India. However, many Hindus today have their remains scattered closer to home.
Here at Farenga, we recognize that each religion has its own customs regarding visitations, funerals, cremation, and burial. Whether you’re at your moment of need, or if you would like to learn more about preplanning your own arrangements, we’re ready to serve you and your family’s needs with care and professionalism. Don’t hesitate to reach out to us today.