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This posed an issue for hospitals because of the rapid increase in funerals being held and maxing occupancy. This resolved when a law was passed to allow the civilian population to hold funerals in the mortuaries of hospitals. The lower class then followed suit, copying the newly set traditions of the upper classes. With this change, the practice of cremation became viewed more as an alternative to traditional burials. Cremation was first introduced by Buddhism , but was banned in It took until for cremation to rapidly grow in popularity.

The culture of Tana Toraja views funerals as the most important event in a person's life. Because of this importance placed on death, Tana Toraja landscape is covered in the rituals and events transpired after death. The hierarchy of an individual's life is based on the sacrifices of animals made after their death. Funerals tend to be celebrated by Tana Toraja people, typically lasting days to even weeks long. Death is seen as a transformation, rather than a private loss.

The Tongkonan represents both the identity of the family and the process of birth and death. The process of birth and death is shown by having the houses that individuals are born in be the same structure as the Tongkonan, houses that individuals die in. Up until the funeral the deceased being housed in the Tongkonan are symbolically treated as members of the family, still being cared for by family members. Northern Territory Australian Aboriginals have unique traditions associated with a loved one's death. The death of a loved one sparks a series of events such as smoking out the spirit, a feast, and leaving out the body to decompose.

The smoking ceremonies purpose is to expel the spirit of the deceased from their living quarters. A feast is held where mourners are covered in ochre , an earthy pigment associated with clay, while they eat and dance.

The traditional corpse disposal of the Aboriginals includes covering the corpse in leaves on a platform. The corpse is then left to decompose. In the African-American slave community, slaves quickly familiarized themselves with funeral procedures and the location of gravesites of family and friends. Specific slaves were assigned to prepare dead bodies, build coffins, dig graves, and construct headstones.

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Slave funerals were typically at night when the workday was over, with the master present to view all the ceremonial procedures. Slaves from nearby plantations were regularly in attendance. At death, a slave's body was wrapped in cloth. The hands were placed across the chest, and a metal plate was placed on top of their hands.

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The reasoning for the plate was to hinder their return home by suppressing any spirits in the coffin. Often, personal property was buried with slaves to appease spirits. The coffins were nailed shut once the body was inside, and carried by hand or wagon, depending on the property designated for slave burial site. Slaves were buried oriented East to West, with feet at the Eastern end head at the Western end, thus raising facing East.

It is forbidden to carry the body for more than one hour's journey from the place of death. Before interment the body should be wrapped in a shroud of silk or cotton, and a ring should be placed on its finger bearing the inscription " I came forth from God, and return unto Him, detached from all save Him, holding fast to His Name, the Merciful, the Compassionate ".

The coffin should be of crystal, stone or hard fine wood. Also, before interment, a specific Prayer for the Dead [32] is ordained. The body should be placed with the feet facing the Qiblih. The formal prayer and the ring are meant to be used for those who have reached fifteen years of age. Apart from sanitary and other practical considerations, the site of burial can be determined by religious and socio-cultural considerations.

Thus in some traditions, especially with an animistic logic, the remains of the dead are "banished" for fear their spirits would harm the living if too close; others keep remains close to help surviving generations. Religious rules may prescribe a specific zone, e. Royalty and high nobility often have one or more "traditional" sites of burial, generally monumental, often in a palatial chapel or cathedral; see examples on Heraldica. In North America, private family cemeteries were common among wealthy landowners during the 18th and 19th centuries.

Many prominent people were buried in private cemeteries on their respective properties, sometimes in lead-lined coffins. Many of these family cemeteries were not documented and were therefore lost to time and abandon; their grave markers having long since been pilfered by vandals or covered by forest growth.

Their locations are occasionally discovered during construction projects. Most modern cultures mark the location of the body with a headstone. This serves two purposes. First, the grave will not accidentally be exhumed. Second, headstones often contain information or tributes to deceased.

This is a form of remembrance for loved ones; it can also be viewed as a form of immortality , especially in cases of famous people's graves. Such monumental inscriptions may subsequently be useful to genealogists and family historians. In many cultures graves will be grouped, so the monuments make up a necropolis , a "city of the dead" paralleling the community of the living.

In many cultures graves are marked with durable markers, or monuments , intended to help remind people of the buried person. An unmarked grave is a grave with no such memorial marker. Another sort of unmarked grave is a burial site with an anonymous marker, such as a simple cross ; boots, rifle and helmet; a sword and shield; a cairn of stones; or even a monument. This may occur when identification of the deceased is impossible. Although many unidentified deceased are buried in potter's fields , some are memorialized, especially in smaller communities or in the case of deaths publicized by local media.

Anonymous burials also happen in poorer or disadvantaged populations' communities in countries such as South Africa, where in the past the Non-white population was simply too poor to afford headstones.

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At the cemetery in a small rural town of Harding, KwaZulu-Natal , many grave sites have no identification, and just have a border of stones which mark out the dimensions of the grave site itself. Many countries have buried an unidentified soldier or other member of the military in a prominent location as a form of respect for all unidentified war dead. Many cultures practice anonymous burial as a norm, not an exception. In rare cases, a known person may be buried without identification, perhaps to avoid desecration of the corpse, grave robbing , or vandalism of the burial site.

This may be particularly the case with infamous or notorious figures. In other cases, it may be to prevent the grave from becoming a tourist attraction or a destination of pilgrimage.


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Survivors may cause the deceased to be buried in a secret location or other unpublished place, or in a grave with a false name or no name at all on the marker. Some burial sites at Forest Lawn, such as those of Humphrey Bogart , Mary Pickford and Michael Jackson , are secluded in private gated gardens or mausoleums with no public access.

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A number of tombs are also kept from the public eye. Forest Lawn's Court of Honor indicates that some of its crypts have plots which are reserved for individuals who may be "voted in" as "Immortals"; no amount of money can purchase a place. Photographs taken at Forest Lawn are not permitted to be published, and their information office usually refuses to reveal exactly where the remains of famous people are buried.

Some couples or groups of people such as a married couple or other family members may wish to be buried in the same plot. In some cases, the coffins or urns may simply be buried side by side. In others, one casket may be interred above another. If this is planned for in advance, the first casket may be buried more deeply than is the usual practice so that the second casket may be placed over it without disturbing the first.

In many states in Australia all graves are designated two or three depth depending of the water table for multiple burials, at the discretion of the burial rights holder, with each new interment atop the previous coffin separated by a thin layer of earth. As such all graves are dug to greater depth for the initial burial than the traditional six feet to facilitate this practice. Mass burial is the practice of burying multiple bodies in one location. Civilizations attempting genocide often employ mass burial for victims.

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However, mass burial may in many cases be the only practical means of dealing with an overwhelming number of human remains, such as those resulting from a natural disaster , an act of terrorism , an epidemic , or an accident. This practice has become less common in the developed world with the advent of genetic testing , but even in the 21st century remains which are unidentifiable by current methods may be buried in a mass grave.


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Individuals who are buried at the expense of the local authorities and buried in potter's fields may be buried in mass graves. Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was once believed to have been buried in such a manner, but today it is known that such burials were never allowed in Mozart's Vienna whose Magistrate refused to agree to the burial regulations decreed by Joseph II. In some cases, the remains of unidentified individuals may be buried in mass graves in potter's fields, making exhumation and future identification troublesome for law enforcement. Naval ships sunk in combat are also considered mass graves by many countries.

For example, U. Navy policy declares such wrecks a mass grave such as the USS Arizona Memorial and forbids the recovery of remains. In lieu of recovery, divers or submersibles may leave a plaque dedicated to the memory of the ship or boat and its crew, and family members are invited to attend the ceremony. Sites of large former battlefields may also contain one or more mass graves.

Douaumont ossuary is one such mass grave, and it contains the remains of , soldiers from both sides of the Battle of Verdun. Catacombs also constitute a form of mass grave. Some catacombs, for example those in Rome , were designated as a communal burial place. Some, such as the catacombs of Paris , only became a mass grave when individual burials were relocated from cemeteries marked for demolition.