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The Etiquette of Funerals and Mourning Rituals

Part 2: Muslim, Buddhist and Hindu Traditions

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Muslim Traditions

According to the Islamic tradition, Muslims are encouraged to accompany the funeral procession to the grave. It is their duty to offer condolences and comfort to the bereaved. However, while doing this one should be mindful to say things that help the bereaved to accept God's will. Comments to the bereaved should be short and tasteful, being careful not to say anything that would be offensive. Finally, excessive wailing, shrieking and demonstrative mourning is forbidden.

The allowed mourning period for a deceased Muslim is three days, except in the case of a widow mourning her husband, in which case she may mourn four months and 10 days.

It is recommended that one leave after offering the family condolences and offers of assistance. However, in practice, some families will hold gatherings offering food and drink to visitors during that three day period.

Family and friends will customarily bring food to the family of the deceased to relieve them of worrying about those details. Opinion varies on the appropriateness of sending flowers. Check with the family of the deceased or their religious leader before sending.

Buddhist Traditions

In Buddhist tradition the funeral usually takes place within a week after death. Sending flowers or making a donation to a designated charity in the name of the deceased is appropriate. The casket is open and guests are expected to view it and bow slightly toward it. Friends may call at the home of the deceased family after the funeral, but not before.

Hindu Traditions

Funerals are usually held within 24 hours of the death. Friends may call on the family at home where the body of the deceased is usually kept until the traditional cremation. If the family receives flowers from visitors, they are placed at the feet of the deceased. After the funeral, friends may visit, and the custom is to bring gifts of fruit.

Readers Respond: Your Unique Funeral Traditions

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