Burying the dead has a long history and is a custom that is followed in many religions of the world. Although some religions prefer to burn the dead body. It is normally believed that the human body is composed of five elements that are the sky, water, earth and air and fire.
Hindus believe that these elements get liberated to their original source if the body is cremated with flames. This is why the human body is burnt as per Hinduism. It is believed that when the body dies, the soul moves out and it goes to heaven or hell as per the deeds that the person has committed during the lifetime.
Every religion has their own customs to ensure that the soul of the dead rests in peace. If the soul does not rest in peace then it will keep haunting earth. The popular belief all across the religions is that when a person dies a violent death or when a person has an unfulfilled desire they come back. We will now discuss the history of burying the dead in detail.
Burying the dead is following in many religions and especially in Christianity and Muslim religious faiths it is very popular. Burying is done not only for human beings but also for dead animals. A pitch is dug and the dead body is placed in it. Later on it is covered. In Hinduism too the same practice is followed for the children who die before five years.
The popular belief is that when a person dies the body starts to decay. In the olden days when people saw death for the first time they did not know what to do with the dead body that starts smelling in no time. This is exactly why they would dig graves and put the bodies to rest. This would ensure that the smell does not spread and the infections don’t spread. However, as time moved and people became more sophisticated they came up with new ways of doing away with the dead.
Perhaps burying was the oldest and the most effective way to do away with the dead. WHO (World Health Organisation) says that only those who were suffering from deadly diseases should be buried. Another reason is that burying also ensures that we respect the dead body because when a person dies animals can attack and destroy the body and burying the body would help to prevent this.
As civilization became more cultured and the family bondings became stronger, people realised the pain they feel when they lose a family member. This is when tombs came into being. Each grave would have a personalized memory of the deceased. The members of the family would visit these graves. They would pay their respect. This would ensure that the memory of the dead is with them even after they are gone.
This slowly evolved more with time. Now the graves were also filled with things that the dead used. Like clothes, food, jewellery, etc were put in the grave. This was done considering that there was an afterlife. The dead would use these in the life next made people emotional and they put all that was close to the dead. This was how the pyramids in Egypt came into being. These were the royal tombs. Huge tombs made for the dead kings and queens. These were decorated with jewels and gold. These tombs were filled things that the king and queen would use. These ensured that they don’t feel bad or miss any of their favourite possessions.
In some parts of the world the graves were represented by stones. The stones would have the name and the details of the dead. Some would also have a massage. This became very popular in the western world. In the United Kingdom in the early 1900 green burial became very popular. In this the bodies would be allowed to decompose in the soil. This was a natural process.
In the earlier days the process of mummification was also started. People of those times came up with ways to mummify the body. Mummification ensured that the organs are removed as a result the body would not decompose fast. It was just to delay the process of decaying. No one can ensure that the body does not decay at all. This was first started in Egypt. It is quite unbelievable that how man was able to think mummification in such olden days. The experts believe that this idea again originated from the concept of respect for the dead, it was found that these bodies would attract animals. With mummification fewer animals would be attracted to the dead body.
People slowly realised that when there were floods the water would wash away the dead body. This is when they realised that the body must be covered with something that water cannot destroy. This is why they came up with the concept of burial caskets and boxes. Slowly the wooden boxes were used. This was perhaps the beginning of using coffins. Today we can easily spot coffins. It evolved with so many years of practicing burial. Most of the bodies are rested on the back. However, across culture different burial methods can be found. In some parts of the world the soldiers were buried in an upright position. Upside down burial methods were used for bodies that committed suicide. Interesting to know how the process of burial originated and evolved with man.
At certain stage during this process of the evolution of burial techniques, it was realized that instead of burying dead anywhere, they must be buried in a specific area. This is how the concept of grave yards started. Today you can find grave yards in many parts of the world. The grave yard of different religions are different. The fear of ghosts and spirits ensured that people follow this custom. In the night no one dares to enter the grave yards. After this as man became more religious many customs were being added to the procedure of burying the dead. The rituals ensured that the souls rest in peace.
I hope this journey of the history of burying has been an informative one and you got to learn about this wonderful custom, which is performed upon the passing away of a human being.