by Dina Stander
What is a burial shroud?
A burial shroud is a wrapping for a deceased being's body. We also call them winding sheets, grave clothes, cerecloth, Tahara, Kaffan. I have learned many words for shrouds since my first personal shrouding experience in childhood, when I wrapped a dead bird in leaves tied securely with long grass before burying it in the meadow. That instinct to protect the remains of the beloved, and to make the body easier to transport for disposition, has many cultural and historical expressions. From ancient art to fine art to photo montages of a modern day pandemic, we are not strangers to seeing images of shrouded bodies. Shrouding customs are practiced in significant world religions and cultures (widely by Hindus, Muslims, and Jews, in African communities, and by some Christian sects), each with its own rules and specifications. No one culture, group, or custom originated shrouding. It is a loving kindness that human beings have shared through collective memory over time.
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