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For so long now, there have been increasing wave of commentaries in print, electronic and social media expressing various views on burial ceremonies.

For so long now, there have been increasing wave of commentaries in print, electronic and social media expressing various views on burial ceremonies.

In spite of series of suggestions as how best to reduce burial expenses, there have been rather additional dimensions being offered to burial ceremonies. This has become very alarming to ecclesiastical, traditional and other leadership in the zone. Efforts have been on how best to effect drastic reduction of burial expenses and activities.
Although, our society is given to the general short memories of times and events, many would recall that the explosion of burial expenses began immediately after the civil war between 1967 and 1970.
Before then, both our attitude and burial ceremonies were basically mournful, solemn and agony. Then, death was regarded as unbearable loss which inflicted deep lamentation, grief and agony to the entire family and neighbourhood.
Futhermore, burial of a deceased person was done quickly and briefly devoid of elaboration. In fact, no matter the affluence of the deceased or his age and position in the society, burial of such are delayed at most three or four days. This was for two principal reasons: to remove the continued wailing and crying away from members of the family concerned. And secondly, to ensure that the body did not decompose for environmental reasons. Then, preservation of a dead body was traditionally done with locally brewed hot drinks and foreign gins with highly concentrated alcohol contents. However, no matter what happened and how preserved, the longest days which such preservation could last was four days.
In view of those prevailing circumstances, the dead were hurriedly buried to reduce the burden and agony of the bereaved families.
Unfortunately from mid 1970s, burial ceremonies and activities began to take new dimensions. This was due to three reasons; Firstly, mortuary homes and facilities began to emerge in many communities, thereby affording the bereaved families the opportunities to secure temporary relief by putting away the dead. Secondly, our people began to travel to far places particularly to the US, Europe and other parts of the world in search of greener pastures. And since the Igbo ethnic people value life, it becomes traditionally imperative and demanding that those living far from home must come home to honour their loved ones and to bid them farewell in death.
Thirdly, our people's both social and economic outlooks have broadened thereby affording them resources to arrange for “befitting burial.” Without doubts these were the three principal factors that triggered a race for “befitting burial” among the Igbo ethnic nationality.
Gradually but steadily, prolonging burial of the dead began to take different days, weeks and now months. Today it is not difficult to see the burial of person stretched to even one year or more.
In response to these unusual phenomena, both the Anglican and Catholic Church leaderships have continued to impose some restrictions as to the number of days each dead member should stay before burial. In addition, they have largely succeeded in curbing the excesses of night vigil for the dead which used to be a huge ceremony or even carnival of a sort.
Expectedly, these restrictions by the orthodox churches have not been obeyed. Rather, they have led several bereaved families to begin to hide the death of a family member from the public, thereby “leading them into avoidable temptations,” of telling lies. But since our social interactions are interwoven, it is not possible to successfully hide the news of the death of a family member from the public or even from the church authorities. Sad!
It is in the realization of this situation that the Bishop of Mbaise Anglican Communion Rt. Rev. Chamberlain Oguledo in a one day Synod took a decision that has obviously liberated many minds by directing its members to ensure that anybody who dies in the family should be buried as soon as possible. But in view of the prevailing social and economic circumstances such burial must not exceed three months.
Members of the faith within this fold have welcomed the decision in addition to other far reaching decisions to restore sanity and morality in the Diocese in accordance with the utmost moral ethics of the Anglican Communion. These included reminding parents to curb the excesses of indecent dressing including among some mothers, instill Christian values in their children and ensuring that these basic Christian behaviours are enforced among members of the families.
Although many believe that this directive would help avoid members resorting to hiding the news of the death of their dead members. In fact, it is expected also that more Christian leaderships in the Christian dominated South East should emulate this move in order to help their members to follow suit.
However, the church in general should endeavour to see how best to curb the ever growing elaborate burials among their members which have turned into status symbol or competitive show of affluence which in a way has forced many families into preventable impoverishments. Because, what the Diocese of Mbaise has done should be seen as a watermark to establishing sanity in the Christian churches. Today, we must face the social and economic realities of the time.

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