The Animatress Pipeline

Filmmaking Adventures


Pasha will be picked up from the vet today and cremated.
To commemorate, I will include some research in the process of cremation in today’s post.
courtesy of Wikipedia


Ancient Cremation first appears in the Levant in the Neolithic, but declines with Semitic settlement of the area in the 3rd millennium.[citation needed] Cremation was widely regarded as barbaric in the Ancient Near East, to be used only by necessity in times of plague. The Babylonians, according to Herodotus, embalmed their dead, and the Zoroastrian Persians punished capitally even attempted cremation, with special regulations for the purification of fire so desecrated.
In Europe, there are traces of cremation dating to the Early Bronze Age (ca. 2000 BC) in the Pannonian Plain and along the middle Danube. The custom becomes dominant throughout Bronze Age Europe with the Urnfield culture (from ca. 1300 BC). In the Iron Age, inhumation becomes again more common, but cremation persisted in the Villanovan culture and elsewhere. Homer‘s account of Patroclus‘ burial describes cremation with subsequent burial in a tumulus similar to Urnfield burials, qualifying as the earliest description of cremation rites. Early cremation may have been connected to ideas of fire sacrifice, such as those to Taranis in Celtic paganism (see human sacrifice).
Hinduism is notable for not only allowing but prescribing cremation. Cremation in India is first attested in the Cemetery H culture (from ca. 1900 BC), considered the formative stage of Vedic civilization. The Rigveda contains a reference to the emerging practice, in RV 10.15.14, where the forefathers “both cremated (agnidagdhá-) and uncremated (ánagnidagdha-)” are invoked.
Cremation was common, but not universal, in both Ancient Greece and Ancient Rome. In Rome, inhumation was considered the more archaic rite (Cicero, De Leg., 2.22), and indeed the Cornelian gens, one of the most cultured in Rome, had, with the single exception of Sulla, never permitted the burning of their dead. Christianity frowned upon cremation, both influenced by the tenets of Judaism, and in an attempt to abolish Graeco-Roman pagan rituals. By the 5th century, the practice of cremation had practically disappeared from Europe.

In the middle ages
Cremation was sometimes used as part of punishment for heretics, and this did not only include burning at the stake. For example, the body of John Wycliff was exhumed years after his death and cremated, with the ashes thrown in a river,[1] explicitly as a posthumous punishment for his denial of the Roman Catholic doctrine of transubstantiation.[2] Retributory cremation continued into modern times. For example, after World War II, the bodies of the 12 men convicted of crimes against humanity at the Nuremburg trials were not returned to their families, but were instead cremated, then disposed of at a secret location, as a specific part of a legal process intended to deny their use as a location for any sort of memorial.[3] In Japan, however, a memorial building for many executed war criminals, who were also cremated, was allowed to be erected for their remains.[4]

The modern era
The modern cremation movements began only in 1873, with the presentation of a cremation chamber by Paduan Professor Brunetti at the Vienna Exposition. In Britain, the movement found the support of Queen Victoria‘s surgeon, Sir Henry Thompson, who together with colleagues founded the Cremation Society of England in 1874. The first crematories in Europe were built in 1878 in Woking, England and Gotha, Germany, the first in North America in 1876 by Julius LeMoyne in Washington, Pennsylvania. The second cremation in the United States was that of of Charles F. Winslow in Salt Lake City, Utah on July 31, 1877. The first cremation in Britain took place on 26th March 1886 at Woking.[5]
Cremation was declared as legal in England and Wales when Dr William Price was prosecuted for cremating his son;[6] formal legislation followed later with the passing of the Cremation Act 1902, (this Act did not extend to Ireland) which imposed procedural requirements before a cremation could occur and restricted the practice to authorised places.[7] Some of the various Protestant churches came to accept cremation, with the rationale being, “God can resurrect a bowl of ashes just as conveniently as he can resurrect a bowl of dust”. The 1908 Catholic Encyclopedia was critical about these efforts, referring to them as a “sinister movement” and associating them with Freemasonry, although it said that “there is nothing directly opposed to any dogma of the Church in the practice of cremation”.[8] In 1963, Pope Paul VI lifted the ban on cremation,[9] and in 1966 allowed Catholic priests to officiate at cremation ceremonies.

Modern cremation process

The body is checked to make sure all jewelry has been removed.

Cremation furnace
The place where the cremation takes place is called crematorium. The crematorium consists of one or more ovens or furnaces and facilities for handling of the ashes. A cremation furnace is a industrial furnace capable of reaching high temperatures up to approximately 870-980 °C (1600-1800 °F) with special modifications to ensure the efficient disintegration of the corpse. One of these modifications is the aiming of the flames at the corpse’s torso, where a majority of the corpse’s mass rests.
The crematorium may be part of chapel or a funeral home, or it may be part of an independent facility or a service offered by a cemetery.

The body burns in the retort.
The furnaces use a number of different fuel sources, such as natural or propane gas. Modern cremation furnaces include control systems that monitor the conditions inside the furnace while a cremation is taking place. The operator can make adjustments to provide for more efficient burning, as well as ensuring that minimal environmental pollution occurs.
A cremation furnace is not designed to cremate more than one body at a time, and to do so is illegal in many nations including the USA.
The chamber where the body is placed is called the retort. It is lined with special refractory bricks to help retain the heat. These bricks require replacement after about five years because of continual expansion and contraction due to temperature cycling.
Modern cremators are computer-controlled with safety devices and interlocks to ensure legal and safe use, e.g., the door cannot be opened until the cremator has reached the correct operating temperature. The coffin is inserted into the retort as quickly as possible to avoid heat loss from the top-opening door. The coffin may be on a motorised trolley that can insert the coffin at speed, or one that can tilt to tip the coffin down a slope into the cremator.
Crematoriums will allow relatives to view the insertion and sometimes this is done for religious reasons, e.g., Hindus.[10] However, notwithstanding the respect with which the deceased is treated, this is fundamentally an industrial process, and not recommended for the sensitive or faint-of-heart.
Cremators are a standard size. Large cities will have access to an oversize cremator that can handle deceased in the 200+ kg range. However, the morbidly obese cannot always be accommodated and must be buried instead.

Body container

The remains are then sifted through to make sure the fragments are small enough.
A body to be cremated is first placed in a container for cremation, which can be a simple corrugated cardboard box or a wooden casket. Most casket manufacturers provide a line of caskets specially built for cremation. Another option is a cardboard box that fits inside a wooden shell designed to look like a traditional casket. After the funeral service the interior box is removed from the shell before cremation, permitting the shell to be reused.
Funeral homes may also offer rental caskets, which are traditional caskets used only for the duration of the services, after which the body is transferred to another container for cremation. Rental caskets are sometimes designed with removable beds and liners, replaced after each use.
In Australia, the deceased is cremated in a coffin supplied by the undertaker. Reusable or cardboard coffins are unknown. If cost is an issue, a plain, particle-board coffin known in the trade as a ‘chippie’ will be offered. Handles (if fitted) are plastic and approved for use in a cremator. Coffins vary from unfinished particle board (covered with a velvet pall if there is a service) to solid timber. Most are veneered particle board.
Cremations can be ‘delivery only’ with no preceding chapel service at the crematorium (although a church service may have been held) or preceded by a service in one of the crematorium chapels. Delivery-only allows crematoriums to schedule cremations to make best use of the cremators, perhaps by holding the body overnight in a refrigerator. As a result a lower fee is applicable. Delivery-only may be referred to by industry jargon such as ‘west chapel service’.

Burning and ashes collection

Remains with large pieces are put into a machine, the ‘cremulator’, that grinds them down to finer bone fragments somewhat resembling wood-ash in appearance, but of greater density.
The box containing the body is placed in the retort and incinerated at a temperature of 760 to 1150 °C (1400 to 2100 °F). During the cremation process, a large part of the body (especially the organs) and other soft tissue is vaporized and oxidized due to the heat, and the gases are discharged through the exhaust system. The entire process usually takes about two hours.
All that remains after cremation are dry bone fragments (mostly calcium phosphates and minor minerals). These representing roughly 3.5% of the body’s original mass (2.5% in children, but these figures vary greatly due to body composition). Because the weight of dry bone fragments are so closely connected to skeletal mass, their weight varies greatly from person to person, with the mean weight in a Florida, U.S. sample being 5.3 lbs for adults (range 2 to 8 lbs). This is distributed bimodally, with the mean being 6 lbs for men (range 4 to 8 lbs) and 4 lbs for women (range 2 to 6 lbs). In this sample, generally all adult cremated remains over 6 pounds were from males, and those under 4 pounds were from females.[11]
Jewellery, such as wristwatches and rings, are ordinarily removed and returned to the family. The only non-natural item required to be removed is a pacemaker, as a pacemaker could explode and damage the cremator. In the United Kingdom, and possibly other countries, the undertaker is required to remove pacemakers prior to delivering the body to the crematorium, and sign a declaration stating that any pacemaker has been removed.[12]
After the incineration is completed, the bone fragments are swept out of the retort, and the operator uses a pulverizer called a cremulator[12] (also known informally as a crembola[citation needed]) to process them into what are known as cremains which exhibit the appearance of grains of sand (note that this varies with the efficiency of the cremulator used, and recognizable chips of very dry bone may be seen in some final product cremated remains, depending on origin and facility). Cremulators usually use some kind of rotating or grinding mechanism to powder the bones, such as the heavy metal bearings on older models.[13]
In Japan and Taiwan, the bones are not pulverized unless requested beforehand, and are collected by the family.
This is one of the reasons cremated remains are called ashes although a technical term sometimes used is “cremains”[14][15] (a portmanteau of “cremation” and “remains”). The ashes are placed in a container, which can be anything from a simple cardboard box to a fancy urn. An unavoidable consequence of cremation is that a tiny residue of bodily remains is left in the chamber after cremation and mixes with subsequent cremations.
Not all that remains is bone. There will be melted metal lumps from missed jewellery, casket furniture, and dental fillings, and surgical implants such as hip replacements. Large items such as titanium hip replacements are usually removed before grinding, as they may damage the grinder. After grinding, smaller bits of metal are sieved out and later interred in common, consecrated ground in a remote area of the cemetery.

The pyre alternative
An alternative method used in some cultures, such as Hinduism, is burning the corpse on a pyre. A pyre is a pile of wood upon which the deceased’s body is placed on top or inside of. The mound is lit on fire, the fire consumes the wood and the deceased. This method is not commonly found in the western world where crematorium ovens are used, and is forbidden by law in some countries.

Ways of keeping or disposing of the cremated remains

Cremated remains are boxed with a plastic liner for the family to do as they wish, or placed in an urn and sealed shut.
Cremated remains are returned to the next of kin in a rectangular plastic container, contained within a further cardboard box or velvet sack. An official certificate of cremation prepared under the authority of the crematorium accompanies the remains.
Cremated remains can be kept in an urn, sprinkled on a special field, mountain, in the sea, or buried in the ground. In addition, there are several services which will scatter the cremated remains in a variety of ways and locations. Some examples are via a helium balloon, through fireworks, shot from shotgun shells or scattered from a plane. One service will send the remains into space and another will have them turned into a diamond in an artificial diamond manufacturing machine, as the ashes are mainly carbon based. They can also be incorporated, with urn and cement, into part of an artificial reef. Cremated remains can be scattered in national parks in the US, with a special permit. They can also be scattered on private property, with the owner’s permission. A portion of the cremated remains may be retained in a specially designed locket known as a keepsake pendant. The final disposition depends on the personal wishes of the deceased as well as their religious beliefs. Some religions will permit the cremated remains to be sprinkled or kept at home. Some religions, such as Roman Catholicism, insist on either burying or entombing the remains.
According to the chemist Carl Djerassi, California law forbids scattering ashes on private property, even property belonging to the decedent’s family. According to his autobiography The Pill, Pigmy Chimps, and Degas’ Horse, Djerassi scattered the ashes of his daughter Pamela in a creek on his own land, but since the creek runs into the San Francisco Bay, it is possible that the act was legal. (The ranch on which Djerassi, daughter Pamela, and son Dale all lived in separate houses is now home of the Djerassi Resident Artists Program, the largest art colony in the Western Unites States.)
Hinduism obliges the closest male relative (son, father, husband, etc.) of the deceased to immerse the cremated remains in the holy river Ganges, preferably at the holy city of Haridwar, India. The cremated remains may also be entombed, in case the deceased was a well-known person.
In Japan and Taiwan, the remaining bone fragments are given to the family and are used in a burial ritual before final interment. (see Japanese funeral)

[edit] Reasons for choosing cremation

Cremation allows for very economical use of cemetery space
Some people find they prefer cremation for personal reasons. For some people it is because they are not attracted to traditional burial. The thought of a long, slow decomposition process is unappealing to some;[16] some people find that they prefer cremation because it disposes of the body immediately.[17]
Other people view cremation as a way of simplifying their funeral process. These people view a traditional burial as an unneeded complication of their funeral process, and thus choose cremation to make their services as simple as possible.
The cost factor tends to make cremation attractive. Generally speaking, cremation costs less than traditional burial services,[17] especially if direct cremation is chosen, in which the body is cremated as soon as legally possible without any sort of services. However, there is wide variation in the cost of cremation services, having mainly to do with the amount of service desired by the deceased or the family. A cremation can take place after a full traditional funeral service, which adds cost. The type of container used also influences cost.
Cremation makes possible the scattering of remains over an area, eliminating the need for and expense of a burial space. However, some religions such as Roman Catholicism require burial or entombment of cremated remains, and while not required the church does prefer that cremation take place after the funeral Mass. Burial or entombment also adds to the cost. The price will depend on what the deceased and/or the family has chosen. Cremated remains require far less space than a traditional burial or entombment and cremation plots or columbarium niches usually cost less than a burial plot or mausoleum crypt.

[edit] Environmental costs and benefits
To some, cremation might be preferable for environmental reasons. Burial is a known source of certain environmental contaminants. Embalming fluids, for example, are known to contaminate groundwater with mercury, arsenic and formaldehyde. The coffins themselves are another known source of contamination.[18] Another concern is contamination from radioisotopes that entered the body before death or burial (from, among other things, radiation therapy); it is possible that the decay of such corpses could cause environmental pollution.[19]
Yet another environmental concern, of sorts, is that traditional burial takes up a great deal of space. In a traditional burial the body is buried in a casket made from a variety of materials. In America the casket is often placed inside a concrete vault or liner before burial in the ground. While individually this may not take much room, combined with other burials it can over time cause serious space concerns. Many cemeteries, particularly in Japan[20] and Europe as well as those in larger cities, are starting to run out of space. In Tokyo, for example, traditional burial plots are extremely scarce and expensive,[21] and in London, a space crisis led Harriet Harman to propose re-opening old graves for “double-decker” burials.[22]
On the other hand, research indicates that potentially damaging emissions from crematoria, although comparatively small on an international scale, are still statistically significant. Among other emissions, the persistent organic pollutant inventory indicates that crematoria contribute 0.2% of the global emission of dioxins and furans.[23]

[edit] Religious views on cremation

[edit] Dharmic faiths

Crematorium in Bangkok, Thailand
While the Abrahamic religions prohibit cremation or prefer burial over cremation, the Eastern religions (i.e., Dharmic faiths) such as Hinduism and Buddhism mandate the use of cremation. In these religions the body is seen as an instrument to carry the soul in that birth. As an example the Bhagavad Gita quotes “Just as old clothes are cast off and new ones taken, the soul leaves the body after the death to take a new one”. Hence the dead body is not considered sacred since the soul has left the body. Hence, the cremation is not regarded as unethical by the Eastern religions. In Sikhism, burial is not prohibited although cremation is the preferred option for cultural reasons rather than religious.

Main article: Cremation in the Christian World
In Christian countries, cremation fell out of favour with the people. The Catholic Church‘s discouragement of cremation stemmed from several ideas: first, that the body, as the instrument through which the sacraments are received, is itself a sacramental, a holy object;[24] second that as an integral part of the human person,[25] it should be disposed of in a way that honors and reverences it, and many early practices involved with disposal of dead bodies were viewed as pagan in origin or an insult to the body;[26] third, that in imitation of Jesus Christ‘s burial, the body of a Christian should be buried; and fourth, that it constituted a denial of the resurrection of the body.[9] Cremation was not forbidden because it might interfere with God’s ability to resurrect the body, however; this was refuted as early as Minucius, in his dialogue Octavius.[27]
Cremation was, in fact, not forbidden in and of itself; even in Medieval Europe cremation was practised in situations where there were multitudes of corpses simultaneously present, such as after a battle, after a pestilence or famine, and where there was an imminent danger of diseases spreading from the corpses.[citation needed] However, earth burial or entombment remained the law unless there were circumstances that required cremation for the public good.[citation needed]
Beginning in the Middle Ages, and even more so in the 18th Century and later, rationalists and classicists began to advocate cremation again as a statement denying the resurrection and/or the afterlife,[28] although the pro-cremation movement more often than not took care to address and refute theological concerns about cremation in their works.[29] Sentiment within the Catholic Church against cremation became hardened in the face of the association of cremation with “professed enemies of God”.[29] Rules were made against cremation, which were softened in the 1960s.[9] The Catholic Church still officially prefers the traditional burial or entombment of the deceased,[30] but cremation is now freely permitted as long as it is not done to express a refusal to believe in the resurrection of the body.[31]
Until 1997, Catholic liturgical regulations required that cremation take place after the funeral Mass, so that, if possible, the body might be present for the Mass – the body was present as a symbol, and to receive the blessings and be the subject of prayers in which it is mentioned. Once the Mass itself was concluded, the body could be cremated and a second service could be held at the crematorium or cemetery where the ashes were to be interred just as for a body burial. The liturgical regulations now allow for a Mass with the container of ashes present, but permission of the local bishop is needed for this. The Church still specifies requirements for the reverent disposition of ashes, normally that the ashes are to be buried or entombed in an appropriate container, such as an urn (rather than scattered or preserved in the family home, although there are Catholics who do this anyway). Catholic cemeteries today regularly receive cremated remains and many have columbaria.
Protestant churches were much more welcoming of the use of cremation and at a much earlier date than the Catholic Church; pro-cremation sentiment was not unanimous among Protestants, however.[32] The first crematoria in the Protestant countries were built in 1870s, and in 1908 the Dean and Chapter of Westminster Abbey, one of the most famous Anglican churches, required that remains be cremated for burial in the abbey’s precincts.[33] Scattering, or “strewing,” is an acceptable practice in many Protestant denominations, and some churches have their own “garden of remembrance” on their grounds in which remains can be scattered. Other Christian groups also support cremation. These include the Jehovah’s Witnesses.[34]
On the other hand, some branches of Christianity still oppose cremation, including some minority Protestant groups.[35] Most notably, the Eastern Orthodox Churches forbid cremation. Exceptions are made for circumstances where it may not be avoided (when civil authority demands it, or epidemics) or if it may be sought for good cause, but when a cremation is willfully chosen for no good cause by the one who is deceased, he or she is not permitted a funeral in the church and may also be permanently excluded from liturgical prayers for the departed. In Orthodoxy, cremation is a rejection of the dogma of the general resurrection, and as such is viewed harshly.[36][37]

Judaism has traditionally disapproved of cremation (which was the traditional means of disposing the dead in the neighbouring Bronze Age Pagan Semitic cultures). Traditionally, it has also disapproved of preservation of the dead by means of embalming and mummifying,[38][39] a practice of the ancient Egyptians. During the 19th and early 20th centuries, as the Jewish cemeteries in many European towns had become crowded and were running out of space, cremation became an approved means of burial amongst the Liberal Jews. Current liberal movements like Reform Judaism still support cremation, although burial remains the preferred option.[40][16]
The Orthodox Jews have maintained a stricter line on cremation, and disapprove of it as Halakha (Jewish law) forbids it. Also, the memory of the Holocaust, where millions of Jews were murdered and their bodies disposed by burning them either in crematoria or burning pits, has given cremation extremely negative connotations for Orthodox Jews.[41][42] Conservative Jewish groups also oppose cremation.[43][44]

Since the organization of the Church in 1830, Latter-day Saints have been encouraged by their leaders to avoid cremation, unless it is required by law, and, wherever possible, to consign the body to burial in the earth and leave the dissolution of the body to nature, “for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return” (Gen. 3:19). President Spencer W. Kimball wrote, “The meaning of death has not changed. It releases a spirit for growth and development and places a body in…Mother Earth” (p. 45). In due time the mortal body returns to native element, and whether it is laid away in a family-selected site or buried in the depths of the sea, every essential part will be restored in the Resurrection: “Every limb and joint shall be restored to its body; yea, even a hair of the head shall not be lost; but all things shall be restored to their proper and perfect frame” (Alma 40:23).
To understand the LDS feeling about cremation, it is essential to understand the doctrine of the Church regarding the body. In a General Conference Elder James E. Talmage, an apostle, stated, “It is peculiar to the theology of the Latter-day Saints that we regard the body as an essential part of the soul. Read your dictionaries, the lexicons, and encyclopedias, and you will find that nowhere, outside of The Church of Jesus Christ, is the solemn and eternal truth taught that the soul of man is the body and the spirit combined” (CR, Oct. 1913, p. 117).

The former Queen lead singer, Freddie Mercury, who was a ParsiZoroastrian, was cremated after his death. In addition, Rajiv Gandhi received a well-publicized cremation on a sandalwood pyre, and he too was Parsi (though maternally of Hindu descent).

According to Feminist interpretations of the archaeological record, cremation is the usual means of burial in Patriarchal religions, the rising smoke symbolizing the deceased’s spirit ascending to the domain of the Father deities in the heavens, while Matriarchal religions are speculated to have favoured interment of the corpse, often in a fetal position, representing the return of the body to Mother Earth in the tomb which represents the uterus. Of modern Neo-Pagan religions, Ásatrú favours cremation.

Other religions that permit cremation
Ásatrú, Buddhism, Christianity (containing Church of Ireland, Church in Wales, United Church of Canada, Lutheranism, Methodism, Moravian Church, Salvation Army, Scottish Episcopal Church), Christian Science, Church of Scientology, Hare Krishna (ISKCON), Hinduism (mandatory except for sanyasis, eunuchs and children under five), Jainism, Seventh-day Adventist Church, Sikhs, Society of Friends (Quakers), and Unitarian Universalism all permit cremation.

Other religions that forbid cremation
Islam and Zoroastrianism forbid cremation. Neo-Confucianism under Zhu Xi strongly discourages cremation of one’s parents’ corpses as unfilial.

Negative recent history experiences with cremation

World War II
During the Holocaust, massive crematoria were constructed and operated by the Nazis within their concentration camps and extermination camps to dispose of the bodies of thousands of Jews, Gypsies, and other prisoners who were killed or died in the camps daily. In addition to the atrocity of mass murder, the remains of Jews were thus disposed of in a manner deeply offensive to Orthodox Judaism because Halakha, the Jewish law, forbids cremation and holds that the soul of a cremated person cannot find its final repose. Since then, cremation has carried an extremely negative connotation for many Jews. A similar attitude also remains prevalent in some countries which were occupied by Germans during WWII, such as Poland and parts of Russia. Partly due to the role of cremation in the Nazi holocaust, the chief war criminals at the Nuremburg trials were cremated and scattered at secret locations (see history section), though this did not take place for cremated war criminals in Japan.

The Tri-State Crematory Incident
A recent controversial event involved the failure to cremate, known as the Tri-State Crematory Incident. In the state of Georgia in the United States in early 2002, three hundred thirty-four corpses that were supposed to have been cremated in the previous few years at the Tri-State Crematory were found intact and decaying on the crematorium’s grounds, having been dumped there by the crematorium’s proprietor. Many of the corpses were beyond identification. In many cases the “ashes” that were returned to the family were not human remains – they were made of wood and concrete dust.
Eventually Ray Brent Marsh – who was the operator at the time the bodies were discovered – had 787 criminal charges filed against him. On November 19, 2004 Marsh pleaded guilty to all charges. Marsh was sentenced to two 12 year prison sentences from both Georgia and Tennessee which he is serving concurrently. Afterwards he will be on probation for 75 years.
Civil suits were filed against the Marsh family as well as a number of funeral homes who shipped bodies to Tri-State. These suits were ultimately settled. The property of the Marsh family has been sold, but collection of the full $80 million judgment remains doubtful. Families have expressed the desire to return the former Tri-State crematory to a natural, park like setting.

The Indian Ocean tsunamis
The magnitude 9.0-9.3 2004 Indian Ocean Earthquake triggered a series of lethal tsunamis on December 26, 2004 that killed almost 300,000 people, making them the deadliest tsunamis in recorded history. The tsunamis killed people over an area ranging from the immediate vicinity of the quake in Indonesia, Thailand, and the north-western coast of Malaysia, to thousands of kilometres away in Bangladesh, India, Sri Lanka, the Maldives, and even as far as Somalia, Kenya and Tanzania in eastern Africa.
Authorities had difficulties dealing with the large numbers of bodies, and as a result thousands of bodies were of necessity cremated together. Many of these bodies were not identified or viewed by relatives prior to cremation, which may have helped families better cope with their grief. A particular point of objection was that the bodies of Westerners were kept separate from those of Asian descent, who were mostly locals. This meant that the bodies of tourists from other Asian nations, such as Japan and Korea, were mass cremated rather than being returned to their country of origin for funeral rites. After one to two weeks of decomposition in the heat, the body of a deceased person becomes nearly impossible to identify; markers such as age, race and even gender become difficult to discern, without the help of an accomplished physical anthropologist.

Supernatural Reasons for Cremation
According to Hindu traditions the reasons for preference of destroying the corpse by fire over burying it into ground, is to induce a feeling of detachment into the freshly-disembodied spirit, which will be helpful to encourage it into passing to ‘the other world’ : the ultimate destination of the dead. This also explains the ground-burial of holy men ( whose spirit is already ‘detached’ enough due to lifelong ascetic practices ) and young children ( the spirit has not lived long enough to grow attachments to this world ). hindu holy men are buried in lotus position and not in horizontal position as in other religions.
Understandably, the cremation is referred to as antim-samskara, literally meaning ‘ the last conditioning ‘.

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^ “Cremation”. Catholic Encyclopedia. The Encyclopedia Press. “In conclusion, it must be remembered that there is nothing directly opposed to any dogma of the Church in the practice of cremation, and that, if ever the leaders of this sinister movement so far control the governments of the world as to make this custom universal, it would not be a lapse in the faith confided to her were she obliged to conform.”
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^ Spongberg, Alison L.; Becks, Paul M. (January 2000). “Inorganic Soil Contamination from Cemetery Leachate”. Water, Air, & Soil Pollution 117 (1-4): 313-327. DOI:10.1023/A:1005186919370. ISSN 0049-6979.
^ Reinhard, Urban (2002). “Umweltbelastung, Bodenkontamination und Gesundheitsgefährdung bei Erdbestattung?” (in German). Wasser und Boden 54 (11): 25-30. ISSN 0043-0951.
^ Shimizu, Louise Picon; Maruyama, Meredith Enman; Tsurumaki, Nancy Smith (1998). Japan Health Handbook. Kodansha International, p. 335. ISBN 4-770-023-561. “Not only is cremation of the body and internment of the ashes in an urn a long-standing Buddhist practice, it is also a highly practical idea today, given the scarcity of burial space in crowded modern Japan.”
^ Furse, Raymond (2002). Japan: An Invitation. Tuttle Publishing, p. 73. ISBN 0-804-833-192. “[L]and prices so high that a burial plot in Tokyo a mere 21 feet square could easily cost $150,000.”
^ Murphy, Joe. “Cemetery space crisis may see bodies put in double-decker graves“, Evening Standard, 2006-05-30. Retrieved on 200702-20.
^ EMEP/CORINAIR Atmospheric Emission Inventory Guidebook, 3rd edition, October 2002. Technical report #30 Incineration of Human Bodies.
^ Davies & Mates, “Cremation, Death and Roman Catholicism”, p. 107
^ St. Thomas Aquinas, for instance, specifically rejected the notion that the human person is merely the soul “trapped” in a body. Robert Pasnau, in the introduction to his translation of Summa Theologiae, says that Aquinas is “quite clear in rejecting the sort of substance dualism proposed by Plato […] which goes so far as to identify human beings with their souls alone, as if the body were a kind of clothing that we put on”, and that Aquinas believed that “we are a composite of soul and body, that a soul all by itself would not be a human being”. See Aquinas, St. Thomas (2002). Summa Theologiae 1a, 75-89, trans. Pasnau, Hackett Publishing. ISBN 0-872-206-130.
^ Prothero, Stephen (2002). Purified by Fire: A History of Cremation in America. University of California Press. ISBN 0-520-236-882. “To the traditionalists, cremation originated among “heathens” and “pagans” and was therefore anti-Christian[.]”
^ In which he said, “Every body, whether it is dried up into dust, or is dissolved into moisture, or is compressed into ashes, or is attenuated into smoke, is withdrawn from us, but it is reserved for God in the custody of the elements. Nor, as you believe, do we fear any loss from sepulture, but we adopt the ancient and better custom of burying in the earth.”. The full text of Octavius is available online from See also Davies & Mates, p. 107-108.
^ Prothero, p. 74-75
^ a b Prothero, p. 74.
^ Davies & Mates, “Cremation, Death and Roman Catholicism”, p. 109
^ See Article 2301 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church.
^ Prothero, p. 77.
^ Davies & Mates, “Westminster Abbey”, p. 423.
^ van Gent, Jacob. Religious Needs of Patients in Sickness Dying and Death. Retrieved on 200702-25.
^ Cloud, David. CREMATION: What does God think?. Way of Life Literature. Retrieved on 200702-03.
^ On Cremation. Retrieved on 200702-03.
^ Grabbe, Protopresbyter George. Cremation. Retrieved on 200702-03.
^ Schulweis, Harold M.. SHAILOS & TSUVAS: QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS. Retrieved on 200702-21. “Judaism is a tradition which affirms life. It has struggled from its inception against concentration on death and the deification of the human being as exemplified in the Egyptian concern with mummification and the preservation of the body after death.”
^ Bleich, J. David. Judaism and Healing: Halakhic Perspectives. KTAV Publishing House, p. 219. ISBN 0-881-257-419.
^ Rothschild, Rabbi Walter. Cremation. Retrieved on 200702-03. “[W]e have no ideological conflict with the custom which is now popularly accepted by many as clean and appropriate to modern conditions.”
^ Freeman, Tzvi. What is the Jewish view of cremation?. “Six million of our people were denied proper burial, most of them cremated. Should we willfully continue that which our enemies began?”
^ Butcher, Tim. “Israeli Ruling on Cremation Angers Orthodox Jews“, The Daily Telegraph, 2007-01-04. Retrieved on 200702-03. “An Israeli court has decided that cremation is legal in a historic ruling that has angered the country’s orthodox community, which believes that it breaches biblical law and offends Jews because it reminds them of ovens used in Nazi death camps.”
^ Shapiro, Rabbi Morris M., Binder, Rabbi Robert (ed.) (1986). Cremation in the Jewish Tradition. The United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism. “The subsequent weight of opinion is against cremation and there is no convincing reason why we should deviate from the sacred established method of burial.”
^ Rabow, Jerome A.. A Guide to Jewish Mourning and Condolence. Valley Beth Shalom. Retrieved on 200602-03. “It should be emphasized that cremation is un-questionably unacceptable to Conservative Judaism. The process of cremation would substitute an artificial and “instant” destruction for the natural process of decay and would have the disposition of the remains subject to manipulation by the survivors rather than submit to the universal processes of nature.”


One response to “Cremation

  1. greenskeeper March 17, 2007 at 5:32 pm

    Very informative article! “Grave Matters” is a good book to check out on the subject. I wrote a little blurb here.

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