Death is painful for the living. But what begins, must end. Death gives meaning to the process of life. It paves the way for the new to flourish, and the old to perish. It becomes the ultimate truth in the journey of the living.
Death is a reminder to be alive, to make the most of life while you can. Time is always passing and drawing closer to the end of things. But religions have divided life and afterlife with a bridge of death, a transition of consciousness. A gateway to the spirit realm.
Different religions have a different understanding of life and death. Let's have a look at them.
Christianity's belief in the afterlife is that your soul either goes to heaven or hell. The ritual to rest the dead is to bury them in a coffin or sometimes cremate them. Dirt and flowers are thrown on the coffin when it is lowered into the ground.
Islam's belief in the afterlife is you either get eternal paradise or eternal hell. The ritual to bury the deceased is to wrap them in a white shroud. Prayers are chanted for the forgiveness of their sins. The burial is held as soon as possible after death. Cremation is forbidden in Islam. The body inside the grave always faces the direction of Mecca.
According to Hinduism, a soul reincarnates itself until it achieves 'Moskha' the liberation of the soul. The corpse is bathed and clothed in white, after that, it is adorned with flowers and finally, cremated after a procession.
In Judaism, death is not the end of existence. The religion tells its followers to focus on here and now rather than an afterlife. Body is bathed and wrapped in a shroud. Buried as soon as possible. In Judaism, cremation is forbidden. A prayer, 'Kaddish' is said in their honor. Seven days of intense mourning is observed.
Much like Hinduism, Sikhism believes in reincarnation of the soul unless the soul is liberated. The body of the departed is wrapped in Sikh attire and cremated, usually on the same day as death. The evening prayer, 'Kirtan Sohila' is recited.
In Buddhism, Nirvana or enlightenment ends the cycle of rebirth. The body is bathed and wrapped in simple clothes. Cremation is preferred. Prayers are said in a 49-day mourning period.
According to the Baha'i religion, the soul lives and develops in the spiritual world. The body is bathed, wrapped in a shroud and buried within an hour's travel from the place of death. The prayer for death is recited.
In their beliefs, the good souls go to heaven, and the bad ones go to hell. Interestingly, death is considered an embodiment of evil and is forbidden to contaminate the earth, air, fire, and water with a decaying corpse. The dead body is laid out on a 'tower of silence' or hill. Exposed to the sun and to be eaten by birds of prey, like vultures.