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Baha’i Funeral Customs

For many of us the Bahai religion is one we are not familiar with and for many one we haven’t heard of, yet in Melbourne and regional Victoria there is a thriving community. Learn what Baha’i Funeral Customs are.

The Baha’i faith is a religion based on the teachings of its founder, Bahá’u’lláh. He lived in Persia (now Iran) during the mid-nineteenth century and revealed teachings that focused on the oneness of God, the unity of humanity, and the essential harmony of all religions. The Baha’i faith is now practiced by millions of adherents around the world.

Baha’i communities are guided by nine elected councils known as Spiritual Assemblies whose members are responsible for promoting spiritual virtues among their members such as kindness, honesty, respect for diversity and understanding between different peoples. The Universal House of Justice at Haifa in Israel serves as a legislative body for all Baha’i communities worldwide. 

The central theme of Baha’i beliefs is unity: unity among people regardless of race or gender; unity between science and religion; unity among nations; unity among all religions; and most importantly, unity with God-“the source of all truth, beauty, justice and love”.

The Baha’i faith places great importance on the spiritual journey of each individual. They believe that life is journey towards unity with God, and death marks when a person’s soul is judged by its actions while living in this world. This judgment is believed to determine a person’s spiritual destiny after death. 

The Baha’i faith is deeply rooted in a strong sense of community, and funerary customs are an important part of their culture. They provide a way for family and friends to come together, honour their loved one and celebrate their spiritual journey.

When it comes to funerary customs for Baha’is, there are certain steps that must be followed and respected. Before burial, the body is washed and then scented with rosewater, usually done by family members themselves as a way of honouring their loved one. A special Baha’i burial ring is placed on the forefinger of the deceased, followed by an elaborate wrapping of the deceased in five sheets of silk or cotton tied off with four strips of cotton silk. The body is then placed in a coffin before being buried in the ground. 

At the gravesite, prayers and sacred texts are said in order to ensure a peaceful passage for the soul into eternal life. Additionally, memorial services are held 40 days after death; these services involve reading verses from scriptures, silent prayer, and remembrance of deceased loved ones through stories shared by family members and friends. The Baha’i faith emphasizes that life should be lived with joyousness rather than sadness and mourning over death. They put great emphasis on living every day to its fullest potential so that when one passes away, they can do so knowing they have found their unity with God through living an ethical life guided by love and compassion for others.

For more information on the Bahai faith in Australia https://bahai.org.au/