Friday, April 25, 2014

Views On A Funeral

We were honored to be able to attend a funeral here yesterday. The deceased was the mother of a friend of ours. The family is Orthodox from Kosovo, and so the traditions were somewhat different from a Serbian or Montenegrin Orthodox funeral.
Prior to burial, there was a condolence time where the guests expressed their sympathies to the family of the decedent. This took place at a small chapel located within the cemetery. The female relatives (by blood or marriage) stand in a receiving line inside the chapel along the wall, the casket is in the center of the room, but elevated, so this is not a "viewing," you do not see inside. The male blood relatives stand in a line outside the chapel door. If there are no male relations by blood, in-laws stand there.
We entered with a group of friends, men going first, and shook hands with each family member, offering condolences to each, even if we didn't know them. After the visitors have filed out of the chapel, a priest comes and chants something-I didn't understand what he said. Then someone delivered a eulogy of sorts. I was able to pick up the titles the woman held in life, such as aunt, mother, grandmother, etc. and the names of her parents, siblings, children, nieces, nephews, grandchildren, great grands...
The casket is brought out and put on a cart and wheeled to the grave site. Women bring the memorial flowers. Family plots are large concrete or marble tombs that hold several caskets, and are closed by concrete or marble slabs.
At the grave site, the coffin was opened, the priest poured some wine into the casket by the head, and at the feet over a burial cloth. He also poured some into the open tomb (our Serbian friends said this is something unique to Kosovan Orthodox tradition). He then delivered a sermon. Then each of the daughters of the deceased woman kissed her and said goodbye. The burial cloth was draped over the whole body, and the coffin lid was put back on and locked. Then the coffin was lowered into the tomb. Some family members took handfuls of dirt and sprinkled them over the casket. The concrete slabs were put back in place, and all the flowers were arranged on top.

Since this was not an appropriate place for a camera, I have no pictures to attach.

2 comments:

D.L. Diener said...

I think understanding burial rituals from different cultures is very meaningful. I find the wine thing very interesting and wonder what the symbolism is behind that. Thanks for sharing this.

Steve, Laura, Ruth and Esther said...

It may symbolize Jesus' blood, similar to in the Lord's Supper. This was just before the priest spoke about Jesus' resurrection, and the hope it gives that Christians will also be resurrected.