Anyway, about the burial scenes in movies. A few days ago, my father was recalling old stories and about a death in the extended family. He said only a couple of people went to the burial ground. I suppose I forgot I was talking with my father, and as if I was in a classroom I asked him, "when it is cremation that is done, why the usage of 'burial ground'"? He thinks it might have been from the British days, which is how English words became a part of the vocabulary. Because the Christian British referred to the burial ground, well, even cremation grounds became "burial grounds." Methinks I should stop asking questions! ;)
The atheist that I am, even if it were not for my Hindu upbringing, I favor cremation. After all, death renders the person as nothing but "the body." When alive, I am sriram, but after I die, the question will not be "what are you going to do with sriram?" Nope. The question will be "what about the body?"
As Neil deGrasse Tyson wonderfully put it in this talk, our body is nothing but cosmic dust. The periodic table elements in us matches the elements in the universe. The universe is within us, and we are the universe. It is one heck of a spiritual way to appreciate our place in this universe. So, after death, cremating and converting me to ashes sounds logical. Return me to dust.
Of course, to many believers, in the Judeo-Christian faith, cremation is not, ahem, kosher. Which means that new doctrinal interpretations have to be developed by those who can read the mind of god. The Roman Catholic institution is now caught up in the, ahem, dust:
On Tuesday, the Vatican responded to what it called an “unstoppable increase” in cremation and set down new guidelines barring the scattering of ashes “in the air, on land, at sea or in some other way.”When new guidelines are issued, I would think that those we quickly refer to as fundamentalists go berserk. Either something was the instruction from god, or it was not. So, what happens to the old instruction that the dead body should not be cremated because of the belief "in the resurrection of the body"? Not my hassle--it is for the believers to sort out the new software update, so to speak.
Burial prevents the forgetting of the loved one, as well as “unfitting or superstitious practices,” the document states.
For that reason, the Vatican said that cremation urns should not be kept at home, save for “grave and exceptional cases dependent on cultural conditions of a localized nature.”
My conversations with my father are evidence that cremation does not mean we have forgotten the people who went before us. We share plenty of stories about those whose bodies were cremated; a marker in the graveyard is not needed by any means to remember and respect the dead.
But then, maybe I am being a cantankerous academic ;)