by Aart Jurriaanse

Throughout the ages the many races, each with its own customs, traditions and mystical and religious backgrounds, have devised numerous methods for disposing of discarded physical vehicles. These have varied from setting out the corpses to be devoured by wild animals, such as hyenas, crocodiles, tigers and vultures; burial, with the body in various postures, in graves, caves, tombs, catacombs, sepulchres and pyramids; burning on funeral pyres or other forms of cremation; and finally embalming to preserve the corpse against decomposition.

Several of these methods are still practised, but burial in Mother Earth is probably still the most commonly used method. This is most unhygienic because so many deaths are caused by infectious diseases, and in burying these corpses the soil becomes contaminated by the causal germs and viruses, which may remain contagious for many years. Thus the burial of millions of the infected corpses has contaminated large parts of the Earth's surface. By far the most effective, hygienic, and also the 'neatest' way of disposing of these physical remains is by cremation. The exact technique applied, and whether open fires or electrical equipment is used, is immaterial. What is important is that cremation is increasingly gaining ground over other practices, and this may in future at least contribute towards purifying the soil, and reducing sources of infection.


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