What is a multi-faith funeral?

Written by Director, Gareth Coles:

It’s not all that long ago when traditional Christian ceremonies were the norm for funerals in the UK, but with an increasingly multicultural society in modern Britain, funeral providers have adapted the services we provide. People from all walks of life, cultures and religions are proud to call Cardiff their home, and this diverse community needs bespoke services to ensure each and every religious need is taken care of. Quite often, this requires specialist facilities.In my last blog on this subject, I talked about the rise in ‘spiritual’ funerals. In much the same way, there is a growing trend for ‘multi-faith’ funerals – sometimes called interfaith funerals. (Interestingly this, this coincides with an increase in the number of multi-faith marriage ceremonies now performed here in the UK).

Whilst spiritual funerals are for people of ‘non-specific religion’, multi-faith funerals are increasingly popular for people from diverse backgrounds that have grown up with two or more religions shaping their beliefs: for example, if the deceased was born to a Christian mother and a Sikh father. In these cases, where the person has practiced equal devotion to the religious beliefs and customs of their parents, a single-faith ceremony might not be representative of the person’s life, nor be appropriate for the family and friends in mourning.

Muhammad Ali’s funeral (which he planned for himself) was probably the most high profile multi-faith funeral that has taken place in recent years.  At Ali’s request, representatives from Judaism, Islam, Christianity and Buddhism all helped to deliver his funeral service, reflecting his diverse beliefs.

At multi-faith funerals, any combination of religious music, readings, prayers, or traditions can be combined to reflect the life of your loved one. The ceremony itself can be led by one religious leader, such as a priest, rabbi or imam – or a number of leaders, depending on the service you have arranged. Alternatively, you could enlist the services of a specially trained interfaith celebrant who specialises in the needs of families with several faiths and beliefs.

Of course, legally anyone can conduct a funeral service, and if the deceased’s religious beliefs support cremation, you could lead the crematorium service yourself, perhaps together with other family members and friends. It’s worth remembering that when you book a crematorium, the service can be conducted in anyway you believe to be appropriate to the deceased – “as long as it’s not illegal or dangerous”. If for example you wanted to re-arrange the chapel, bring pets to the service, or play non-stop music – most Crematoriums can accommodate your wishes. Cardiff’s Thornhill Crematorium also provides the technical capabilities to deliver audio-visual tributes and webcast the entire service to people that cannot be present on the day.

Would a multi-faith, or interfaith funeral, be of interest to you? Perhaps you’d like to follow in Muhammad Ali’s footsteps and plan your funeral to ensure it considers and reflects all aspects of your religious beliefs.

At Coles Funeral Directors we can help you pre-arrange your funeral. Come on in and sit with a member of our team to discuss the arrangements you’d like to make, without any upfront payment should you prefer not to take out a pre-paid plan. We’ll simply record your wishes, explain the current cost and then send you a typed confirmation of our meeting and what you have decided. We hold an additional copy on file.

This allows you the peace of mind that your wishes are fully recorded with us, your chosen funeral directors.