Tiered Resting Places for the Dead
The custom of disposing of the human dead with ceremony is universal. But the manner in which the remains are cared for varies. What is quite common to people in one part of the world is unusual to persons living elsewhere. A case in point are the tiered resting places for the dead found in Hawaii and Latin America.
In Latin America it is customary to slide the casket into a long tunnellike hole in a wall, to stack up bricks in front of the casket and then to seal it off with fresh mortar. To identify the deceased, a plaque is placed over the sealed opening, at the base of which is a tray for holding fresh flowers. The burial walls themselves may be many feet long and wide enough to hold two caskets on the same level. Up to eight caskets may be stacked vertically.
In the Universal Cemetery of Barranquilla, Colombia, there are three classes of vaults—one for the rich, another for the middle class and another for the ordinary working people. With the exception of the rich who own their burial places, most persons pay a rental fee for a few years. Then they purchase a niche in another tiered structure, in which the remains are kept in a small metal container double the size of a shoe box. Again, the remains are identified by a plaque.
It is noteworthy that the Scriptures do not prescribe the procedure for handling the remains of the dead, since this has no bearing at all on their being brought back to life in the resurrection. Of utmost importance is the building up of a fine name or reputation with Jehovah God during a person’s lifetime so that He will consider one worthy of being raised from the dead.—Eccl. 7:1; Acts 24:15.