Cremation and Tradition
Cremation and Religion
Cremation vs. Burial
Funeral Cemetery Inventions
The question of what to do with the remains of a deceased person has been a curiosity for centuries. Here is a brief look at how the people of the world have dealt with remains through the years. What we know today is that the practice of cremation more than likely began during the early Stone Ages in Europe. In Greece as early as 1000 B.C it was the most common way to dispose of the deceased instead of burial. The Roman Empire put the cremated remains in Urns and often within Columbarium like buildings.
Religious beliefs over the centuries have always played a big part in death. Every religion has their own standards for cremating. Before cremation was legalized in 1884 there was a long period of time where religious clerks prevented cremating of the deceased. In 1963 the Vatican lifted the ban on cremation for Catholics but even after the legalization of cremation many religions still ban it such as Orthodox Jews and Muslims. Roman Catholicism requires the remains to be buried not scattered or kept at home. The Catholic Church encourages Catholics to bury the remains of the deceased in Catholic cemeteries. In the religion of Hinduism the closest male relative of the deceased sinks the ashes in the Holy River of Ganges. In India it is much of the same. The ashes are typically immersed in the Kaveri River at Pascguna Vahini in Srirangapattana. The ashes are sunk at a stretch where the river flows East to West which depicts the human life sunrise to sunset. Protestantism has been one of the more welcoming religions on cremating. Scattering or strewing is an acceptable practice and some churches even have their own “garden or remembrance” on their grounds where the remains can be scattered.
What is done with the remains of the deceased in many cultures depends on many factors such as the deceased person's own wishes, religious beliefs and laws. There are a wide variety of options you can choose from. The more common way is to scatter the ashes usually in bodies of water such as lakes, rivers and oceans. Or in special places the deceased loved or like to go. This can be an uplifting experience for close family and relatives of the departed. Some chose to bury the remains in cemetery plots or family plots because they believe even though the person is cremated they still need to be memorialized with a name and date. It has come into question whether or not to allow people to bury the remains on top of previously deceased relatives. This depends on what the law says for that state or country. When scattering ashes some chose to save some of the remains as a keepsake. In countries such as Holland, residents take the remains and make them into ornaments or put the remains into pieces of cremation keepsake jewelry, which can be worn everyday such as lockets or bracelets. This is also practiced today across the world, and, in fact, cremation jewelry is a very common item on the marketplace across America. The remains can be compressed to create man made diamonds. Instead of scattering or burying many chose to keep the ashes of a loved one in an urn and keep it in their home. Some do not agree with this practice. They believe it is morbid to keep remains in one's home. Some even say it is degrading and humiliating to the deceased person. Some religions are against this because they believe it keeps the deceased from moving on.
Very unusual places have been chosen for the remains of the deceased some which are not always legal. Some places are Wrigley Field, Fenway Park, Yankee Stadium and even Disneyland. Video Cameras at Disneyland have caught people in the act of scattering ashes on attractions. These people almost always say the ride was the favorite attraction of the deceased and they wanted to honor them by spreading their ashes over their favorite attraction. Perhaps unsurprisingly, The Haunted Mansion is said to be the most popular attraction in Disneyland for scattering ashes. Some eccentric ways of dealing with remains are scattering them via hot air balloon, shotgun shells, from airplanes or load up the ashes into fireworks and send them across the sky. Or having a Lucite paperweight, or even glass sculptures and jewelry, made with the ashes trapped inside, even picture frames trimmed with bone fragments. To honor the deceased, the remains can be mixed into paint and made into a portrait of the departed. The remains can also be to make tattoo ink for a memorial tattoo. This is not usually done often because very few tattoo artists agree to do this.
And all of that is just the start. There exists a program that allows you to send remains into outer space. This program allows the remains to be launched into the Earth orbit onto the lunar surface or into deep space. One ecological method is to use the remains to make a memorial reef. This program was launched in 1984. What is done is to use the remains and mix them into concrete slurry which is poured into dome shaped forms and then set to harden. The memorial reef is then sunk into coastal waters over time the reefs are teeming with life such as sea creatures, sponges and school of fish. The remains lay the foundation for new life under the sea. Many chose this form because the deceased loved to fish or loved the sea.
Laws also play a factor in dealing with remains. Its generally the choice of the deceased itself or relatives what to do with the remains, but every state has its own laws. In California, the California Health and Safety Codes state that it is a misdemeanor violation to scatter human ashes on private property unless you have permission or have a permit. If its chosen to dispose of ashes in the sea it must be at least 3 miles from the coast and must be reported to the EPA. Biodegradable urns for ashes are made just for these ways of scattering ashes because the urn is made to float a sea momentarily then slowly sink. Once it is sunk it will start to gradually break down naturally.
Over the centuries what do with the remains of the deceased have changed dramatically since the Stone Ages. Technology has become so advanced that almost anything can be done with the remains.