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Embracing different religions this April

During April 2023, there are three different religious holidays taking place; Easter, Passover and Ramadan. We take a look at the different cultural holidays in this blog, and how they are celebrated, plus look at how each religion deals with the process of a funeral.

What happens during Ramadan?
Happy Eid

What happens during Ramadan?

Firstly there is the Islamic festival of Ramadan. This takes place from 22 March 2023 until 21 April 2023. During the Ramadan holiday, Muslims won't eat or drink during the day, which is known as fasting. This is believed to help Muslims devote themselves to their faith and teach self discipline.

During Ramadan, one meal (known as the suhoor) will be eaten before dawn and then another meal (known as the iftar) will be eaten directly after sunset.

Eid ul-Fitr marks the end of Ramadan, which means festival of the breaking of the fast. Muslims thank Allah during this festival, spending time with family and friends and hosting a special meal. Eid Mubarak, which means blessed Eid will be said to others.

If a family member or friend has died prior to the Eid celebrations, there will be a visit to the cemetery to say prayers at the family grave. This reminds the living that life is temporary and it is important to live correctly to ensure eternal life with Allah.

What happens at a Muslim funeral?

According to the 2021 UK census, there are nearly 4 million Muslims living in England. The concept of death in the Islamic faith, is that we have emerged and will return to Allah. The mourning period will last no more than three days.

The Imam (prayer leader at the mosque) is informed as soon as possible after a death has occurred and prayers from the Qur’an will be recited over the body. The body will be taken to the Funeral Director’s premises where it is washed by family members of the same gender as the deceased. This ritual would usually be performed in a room that has been purified and is free from all statues and
religious symbols It is important to ensure that these beliefs, which are fundamental to the Islamic faith, are respected.

Once the body has been washed, it is swathed in a simple white
cotton sheet or shroud. All Muslims are dressed alike to symbolise their equality before God. The body is then placed in a unlined coffin. According to Islamic tradition, burial is the preferred form of disposal and should take place before noon within 24 hours. The body will be buried with the head of the deceased facing towards Mecca.

You can read more about Muslim funerals here.

What happens at Easter?
Happy Easter

What happens during Easter?

Easter is a very important religious festival for Christians which starts on 2 April 2023 and ends on Monday 10th April 2023. It celebrates the rising of Jesus from the dead, three days after he was executed. Easter starts with Palm Sunday which is said to be when Jesus arrived in Jerusalem, on a donkey, and people waved palms at him to greet him. Then on Maundy Thursday, which occurs just before Easter Sunday, is where Christians remember the Last Supper that Jesus had with his disciples. There will be a church service to commemorate this. On Good Friday, which is the day Jesus was crucified, hot cross buns are common to eat. Easter Sunday marks the end of Easter and celebrates Jesus coming back alive.

What happens at a Christian funeral?

There are said to be decreasing numbers of Christians in the UK, split across various denominations that are marked by various differences in doctrine and worship. Christian's believe in one God, who revealed himself as the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.

Once someone dies, they will be taken to a Funeral Directors Chapel of Rest. This isn't a religious place however. Christians may choose burial or cremation. Some Christian's have a clear belief in heaven and hell, and that we only have one physical life.

You can read more about Christian funerals here.

What happens at Passover?
Happy Passover

What happens at Passover?

Passover occurs from 5th April until 13th April 2023. Passover is one of the biggest festivals in the Jewish faith and is a celebration of the Exodus. It allows the Jewish people to remember how their ancestors were led out of Egypt by Moses. God sent ten plagues to warn the Pharaoh from keeping them as slaves.

On the evening when Passover begins, the Jewish people will have a service known as a Seder. A part of the story of the Exodus will be read out and they will eat from a Seder plate, which will have 6 foods that make up different parts of the story. The Jewish people won't eat bread made with raising agents during Passover to represent that they didn't have time to wait for the bread to rise during their escape from Egypt.

Every year on the anniversary of the death, the family say the Kaddish and burn a candle for twenty-four hours. The grave is visited at least once a year, especially before the Jewish New Year, to ensure their special memories do not fade.

What happens during a Jewish festival?

Jewish people believe in one God who created the universe. The Sabbath begins on a Friday and ends one hour after sunset on Saturday. This commemorates the seventh day when God rested after the Creation. Jews are not expected to travel, cook or use electrical equipment during this time.

Unless death occurs after sunset on Friday, where the burial would be delayed until Sunday, the Jewish faith expects that funerals should take place within 24 hours. The body of the deceased would be dressed in a white shroud and then placed in a plain wooden coffin. Men would be buried with a prayer shawl with its tassels cut off.

The deceased person shouldn't be left unattended, with candles placed at the head and foot of the coffin. After prayers offered by the rabbi at the house, the coffin is carried out and mourners would usually follow on foot to the cemetery. If the cemetery is not within
walking distance, transport is permitted, but many Orthodox Jew insist on covering some of the way on foot.

The men in attendance will shovel some earth on the coffin, then read a special prayer.

Jewish people believe that there is only one God and one life to be lived.

You can read more about Jewish funerals here.