New World Encyclopedia integrates facts with values.
Written by online collaboration with certified experts.
Did you know?
Rwanda is known as the "Land of a Thousand Hills" (read more)
Cremation, or the practice of burning the dead, refers to the disposal of a human corpse by burning in a crematorium furnace or crematory fire. Bodies of the deceased can also be burned in a crematorium pit or trench, or, on occasion, in the house in which they lived. Cremation practices are historically very ancient and widespread, and are the second most common way to dispose of the dead, after burial. Disposal of the cremated remains often shows the most variation; the most common practice both historically and contemporaneously is to house the ashes in a pottery vessel or decorative urn. The container can then be buried or put on display in the home of a loved one. Other practices may include the scattering of ashes over a body of water, or a plot of land. The disposal of cremated ashes often varies throughout different parts of the world.
The crematorium at Haycombe Cemetery, Bath, England
Cremation practices may be used for a variety of reasons. Some cultures may view fire as a purifying agent and see the practice of cremation as the most respectful way to dispose of the dead. Other societies may believe cremation to light the way into the afterlife, or to prevent the spirit of the deceased from returning to the world of the living. More modern reasoning may include the shortage of land in urban areas.
Popular Article: Panda
The panda or giant panda is a mammal native to central-western and southwestern China and Tibet, characterized by woolly fur with large, distinctive dark patches around the eyes, over the ears, and across its round body. Though classified as a carnivore (order Carnivora) in the bear family, Ursidae, the panda has a diet which is 99 percent bamboo.
The giant panda is a favorite, at least partly because many people find that the species has an appealing "baby-like" cuteness. Also, it is usually depicted reclining peacefully eating bamboo, as opposed to hunting prey. Though the giant panda is often assumed docile, they have been known to attack humans. In cases in which its offspring may be under threat, the panda can react violently.