Why did his coffin remain open during the funeral?

Why did his coffin remain open during the funeral?

The Russian opposition figure, who died on February 16 in prison, was buried today, Friday, in Moscow, according to Orthodox tradition. A crowd of people gathered to honor him, despite the Kremlin’s warnings against any “unauthorized” demonstrations.

Alexei Navalny was buried on Friday, March 1, in Moscow. Thousands of people gathered to honor the Russian opposition figure who died on February 16 in an isolated correctional center in the Arctic.

In the photos of the ceremony, we see in particular that the coffin remained open during his religious funeral in the church located in the Marino region, southeast of the Russian capital. The practice is part of the Orthodox tradition.

The issue of cremation

According to custom, Orthodox churches place the Resurrection at the heart of the funeral of the deceased. The latter's body therefore has an important place during this moment. In this regard, as stated Website of the Russian Church in France“Cremating bodies is not a tradition.”

In principle, it is an unauthorized practice, yet it is being used more and more. “The Soviet era made it a means to fight religion,” and today it represents more than 60% of funerals, which is a solution to the limited space in cemeteries and the high cost of ceremonies.

The body of Alexei Navalny during his funeral in Moscow on Friday, March 1, 2024
The body of Alexei Navalny during his funeral in Moscow on Friday, March 1, 2024 © BFMTV

Open the coffin until burial

During the funeral, the coffin remains open, a translation of “the extraordinary presence of the deceased among his relatives and friends,” as he put it. Funeral information website.

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The deceased's arms are crossed on his chest, his personal icon is placed in his hands, and a headband on which a prayer is written is placed around his forehead. In the photos, we can see that this is indeed the case for Alexei Navalny.

Bodies are also transported to the church with an open coffin in countries with an Orthodox culture. “In France, this practice is not tolerated,” he adds. Funeral center in Lyon.

After the ceremony, the casket can remain open until burial, as is the case for Alexei Navalny. It was then sealed before being buried. At that moment, “symbolically, the family and loved ones are invited to throw a handful of dirt on the coffin and kiss the cross held by the priest.”

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