Funeral Rites Across Different Cultures: Baha’i Faith

The Baha’i Faith is a religion that was founded in Persia (now Iran) in the 19th century.  The Baháʼí Faith teaches the essential worth of the fundamental unity of all religions and the essential harmony of all people.  Baha’is regard Jesus, Muhammad, Lord Krishna, Buddha, Jewish prophets, and other prophets as manifestations of the oneness of God.

In general, Baha’i funeral customs are relaxed and intended to accommodate the personal preferences of the family.  In fact, the only mandatory part of the service is the recitation of the Prayer for the Dead, which precedes the internment of the deceased.  According to the Baha’i Faith, the soul is released from the physical body and enters the spiritual realm upon death. Non-Baha’is are welcome to attend and be present when the Prayer for the Dead is recited.  Memorial services take place a few days following death and guests are free to dress as they wish.

Burials and funerals in the Baha’i Faith function to protect the living from pain and ensure that the soul is blessed when it leaves the body.  The Baha’i Faith teaches that the deceased must be buried quickly and nearby, which typically means no more than an hour away from where the person died. Baha’is believe that this discourages people from becoming attached to any one geographic place.

While Baha’is do not follow any specific rules for expressing condolences, a sympathy card or food offering is considered proper etiquette.

Woodlawn continues to be a non-sectarian cemetery without a specific religious affiliation.