As and when human beings die, the dead bodies or corpses must be properly disposed and get decomposed.
The human dead bodies consist of two basic parts, namely:
- Soft Tissues, (Flesh) which would rapidly get decomposed and
- The Skeleton (Bones) which will get decomposed in a number of years, which can also be preserved for many years, by some scientific methods under certain conditions.
The following are some of the modes of disposal of the dead bodies / corpses in the World and also in India:-
Normal Methods of Disposal of Corpses:
Burial- Practised by the Jews, Christians and Muslims- placing the corpses inside the earth in Coffins (wooden boxes / containers).
Cremation- Practiced by the Romans, Greeks and Hindus- burning the corpses by fire, gas or electricity- burning the soft tissues and the most parts of the skeleton / bones-
The cremation-remains, are known as “Cremains”, containing larger pieces of the parts of the skeleton / bones, which would be ground into ash mechanically- The ashes would be stored in ‘Urns’ and / or sprinkled on landscapes, rivers and oceans.
Rare Methods of Disposal of ‘Corpses’:
‘Immurement’-Permanent storage in ‘Above the Ground Tombs’ -called ‘Mausoleums’, – The dead bodies of many ‘Historical Emperors of India have been kept in ‘Mausoleums’.
For instance, ‘Taj Mahal’ is a Mausoleum of Mum ‘Taj Mahal’, the beloved wife of Shah Jahan.
Sky-Burial or Open Air-Disposal of Corpses – birds and animals would attack the parts of the dead bodies and eat the flesh-called ‘Towers of Silence’ -Practiced by Tibetan Buddhists and Zoroastrians,
Natural Perishing of Corpses Method- The dead bodies would be kept in the open and the soft tissues would be allowed to rot and perish, over a long period of time- similar to the ‘sky burial’ disposal – the remaining parts and the bones would be entombed.
Disposal of the Dead Bodies of Military&Naval Personnel and the Persons dying in the ships on Long Voyages:
Sea Burial- the dead bodies would be suitably packed with weight, to enable sinking into the deep sea- would be dropped into the sea from a ship or airplane- This method is used in the cases of deaths of military and naval personnel and in case of deaths in ships on Long Voyages.
Boat burial- A form of ‘sea burial’, in which the dead body would be kept on a boat and left to get drowned into the sea and the dead body would get perished in the deep sea bed.
Special Types of Disposal of Corpses:
Resomation –Dissolution in acids or a solution of lye and disposal as a fluid- Called ‘Alkaline Hydrolysis’ – an abnormal mode of disposal of the dead bodies and considered to be more ‘environmental friendly’ than the other methods, including burial and cremation and especially the open sky burials,
Donation for Research and Study- to Medical Colleges and Institutes, where the dead bodies would be used for demonstrations, dissections, research and study and after some time the parts of the body would be cremated
Mass Burials and Mass Cremations -of a number of dead bodies, during wars, ‘genocides’ and natural disasters such as tsunami and deaths due to epidemic diseases, when a large number of people would die,
Dismembermentof the dead bodies- where the corpses are divided into various parts and the different parts would be disposed of separately.
The whole dead bodies or some of the parts of the corpses may be preserved by some of the following methods:
‘Mummyfication’- A sophisticated method of preservation of the dead bodies, by removing the internal organs, dehydrating the bodies and wrapping and covering with linen cloth- practiced by ancient Egyptians,
Stuffing and Preservation-The dead bodies of some well known personalities have been stuffed with suitable material’s after removing the inner parts and the body would be preserved by suitable chemicals,
Chemical Preservations of Parts of the Dead Bodies– Some parts of the dead bodies would be chemically preserved for a long time, such as those of some of the saints of the Roman Catholic Christianity, which are called ‘Relics’,
Method of Plastination-The dead bodies would be ’embalmed’ and preserved by dissection and slicing and replacing the fluids inside the body with inert plastic for anatomical study of the Medical students and for displaying in Museums,
Keeping Parts of the Dead Bodies in Chemical Preservative Liquids-Some of the parts of the human dead bodies would be kept within preservative chemical liquids in Museums and Medical College Laboratories.
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Why do Muslims in India pray for the souls of their deceased relatives and others?