HOW TO PERFORM THE RITUALS OF DEATH FUNERAL DURING COVID-19
In this COVID-19 pandemic, religious rituals around death funeral and dying all over India and the world. The coronavirus impact on death and burial rituals within Christian and Muslim communities in Iraq. Antyesti literally means “last sacrifice”, and refers to the funeral rites for the dead in Hinduism, which usually involve cremation of the body. This rite of passage is the last samskara in a series of traditional life cycle samskaras that start from conception in Hindu tradition.It also addresses how Hindu and Muslim burial practices have been limited due to COVID-19. The Islamic ritual of washing bodies has been most impacted in places like Iraq, India, Pakistan, and Turkey. In China, families were unable to pick up the ashes of their loved ones but were allowed to partake in the Tomb Sweeping or Qingming Festival, which honor’s and venerates family ancestors. Jews around the world have had their rituals of Shiva and the prayer of the caddish curtailed due to the requirements that a group of people present.
Hundreds of thousands of people around the world have died in the coronavirus pandemic from the disease known as COVID-19 and other ailments. Compounding the pain and loss as the death toll mounts is the inability to grieve as before or another wrenching disruption affecting cultures and faiths worldwide.
In India, many of India’s majority Hindus believe that being cremated next to the Ganges, or having ashes submerged in its waters, ensure salvation. In Egypt, the excruciating inability of families to carry out the Islamic custom of bathing the body before burial. In Mexico, cremations are depriving many of valorous or wakes. Many countries have restricted the number of people who can gather together and families have been prohibited from visiting loved ones suffering from the disease and from coming into contact with their bodies after they have died. Under state and nationwide lockdowns, many had to grieve alone.
The gathered community is essential to the grief process and the death funeral process, it’s as near a universal as we’ve got.
Like so much in this pandemic, it remains unclear how long such measures will remain and what lasting effects they may have on the bereaved and their communities. Scholars who study end of life rituals worldwide say grieving practices can be crucial for individuals’ mental and spiritual health.
In Roman Catholic rituals, a priest usually performs last rites at a dying person’s bedside, which requires physical touch, including giving, communicating, and anointing them with oil. But in this COVID-19 pandemic, many clerics have been barred from entering health facilities. During the worst of the outbreak in hard-hit northern Italy, priests stopped saying last rites. Unable to enter patients’ rooms, some priests in the United States have given blessings from the hallway or over the phone.
In other religions, such as Hinduism and Islam, family and a faith leader may pray with the dying person, but this has been nearly impossible because of pandemic restrictions.
Preparation of the body is an important part of many rituals in death funeral, but the World Health Organization (WHO) has said that family members and friends should not touch or kiss the body. Anyone handling it should wear personal protective equipment, even though there is no evidence that someone who has died of COVID-19 can transmit the disease.
Most countries have banned large gatherings and prohibited travel, which means few family members, can attend funerals in person. Travel restrictions have prevented Muslim immigrants in France and Italy from repatriating the bodies of loved ones to their home countries, and they have struggled to find local burial plots that follow Islamic tradition. The Indian city of Varanasi typically sees hundreds of Hindu worshipper’s daily travel to cremate their loved ones in the belief that doing so will free the dead from a cycle of rebirth. Yet it has been largely absent of its funeral pyres since India instituted its nationwide lockdown.