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Rites of passage

Is the small funeral here to stay? We ask the people in the business for their take on whether the "small and private gathering" seen at Steve Jobs' funeral is likely to be a future trend or are we just "too Indian" to go the less-is-more way?

On October 5, 2011, American inventor and entrepreneur Steve Jobs said his final goodbye. His funeral held two days later on October 7, 2011, was reportedly a "small and private gathering". Well-wishers and fans were encouraged to send remembrance and condolence messages to an email address, specifically created for the
purpose.



Is Jobs' funeral indicative of a future trend, with an increasing number of families opting for low-key funeral services? Unlikely, believes Danny Michael Pinto, whose family has been in the funeral business for decades now. "Abroad, there is a different sensibility. You don't even know who your next-door neighbour is. Here, if you live in Mahim, someone from Borivali might attend your funeral," he says.

Less drama
Having said that, he agrees that family members seem to have become more accepting of death or the passing of a loved one. "Earlier, there used to be a lot of hue and cry, a lot of shoo-sha, if you like, at funerals, but now they have become more sombre occasions," shares the 54-year-old.

People are also better informed about the services available to them. "They ask whether we offer a limousine as a hearse, whether we have a lawn set-up and if we can play piped music, instead of there being a live band playing in an open arena," shares Pinto.

Spending power
Elroy Noronha of Indian Funeral Service has noticed that people are also spending more at funerals. The cost of a funeral can start from Rs 3,000 and go up to a lakh or "whatever you want it to be", says Pinto, defining the upper limit. "The major cost of the funeral is the coffin, with Silver Oakwood coffins being among the most expensive options. The veneer or finish can also cost quite a bit, especially if one opts for finishes like the mahogany finish.

Pet request
Noronha says that he gets some "unusual" requests that include a burial for a rooster. "We had someone request for a small box to bury their pet rooster, which they then had cremated at the animal hospital in Parel. Most of the requests we get for pet funerals are for dogs," he shares.



Famous funeral
Elvis Presley (January 8, 1935 - August 16, 1977)
The funeral of Pop icon Elvis Presley was as extravagant as his real life. Presley's father allowed a public viewing of the casket, where 30,000 fans visited. Famous names who attended the funeral, on August 18, 1977, included singer James Brown and actor George Hamilton.

Different faiths, same destination



Hinduism
The ceremony starts with a cleansing and adorning of the body. The body is carried to the cremation ground, as prayers are chanted to Yama (God of Death).



Islam
Once a Muslim dies, the body is "prepared" for the transition by washing, perfuming, and shrouding it. After prayers, the body is buried in a graveyard without a coffin.



Zoroastrianism
After the body is washed, clothed and rituals performed, the body is removed to the Tower of Silence during the day. The "sagdid" of flesh-devouring birds is allowed.



Judaism
Followers of Judaism or Jews believe in the afterlife. Mourning practices are extensive, and have two purposes: to show respect for the dead, and to comfort the living.

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