In our world where rapid changes and important developments are experienced, an inevitable end awaits the human kind: death? The beliefs and practices surrounding the society make this End more acceptable.

The occasion of death being unavoidable is one of the fields in which there is considerable social aid and solidarity especially in smaller populated areas where customs, traditions and beliefs prove to be more effective.

Usually, death appears as a fearsome process. Many societies regard it as the continuation of the person?s soul while his physical being vanishes. Some unordinary behaviors, caused by subconscious oppression due to fear, have been considered to be the initial signs and implications of death (such as dreaming of a coffin, wedding gown, wedding, house collapsing, tooth falling, shoe facing the opposite direction, scissors left open, corpse?s neck as bent and flesh as soft, patient turning pale and having no appetite, staring at some point etc.).

The path of avoiding is chosen for the events believed to cause death. These are practices such as giving alms to the needy for a dream regarded as bad, narrating the dream to running water, emptying the water cups in the funeral house, mopping the house as the funeral leaves, turning the cauldron of washing water of the corpse upside down etc.During death special care is given for the person to die in comfort. In order to achieve this, the pillow underneath the person?s head is taken away, water is fed into his mouth, special care is given not to mourn loudly and his far away relatives are summoned. A clergyman is called in or those who know read the Koran.

After the realization of death, usually the funeral is taken from the place of death to the bed prepared. His jaw and feet from the two thumbs are tied together. If the death occurred overnight and a relative is expected to arrive from far, the funeral is kept waiting. The waiting time generally does not exceed 14-15 hours. The death news is announced to the surroundings via media and through the mosque. In the aftermath process other practices are carried out which are believed to facilitate the corpse?s journey to the other world. These practices also aim to protect the remaining ones from the adverse effects death might bring.

The initial preparations take start by washing and shrouding of the body under certain rules. Women wash the female corpse while men wash the male. Those who are responsible for washing the corpse are experienced ones who know the necessary rules. Washing takes place in villages inside houses or in a garden on a wooden surface and not many are allowed to pass through to this area. In large cities washing service is carried out in cemetery ablution houses. The color of the cloth used as shroud is white. The corpse which has been shrouded and brought into the coffin is taken to the cemetery among shouts of ?La elaha ellallah? (there is no God but Allah). The ritual prayers are performed at the cemetery. Afterwards, the coffin is taken to the burial area. The tomb is prepared before the coffin is brought in. The preparation today is done by digging of the grave in a straight way or by digging out a separate hollow and placing the corpse inside. The hollow is woven with stone or briquette, and then soil is spread over it. The corpse is buried without the coffin. After the burial service is completed, inspiring words are spoken for the deceased by a clergyman or a knowing person with a belief that it might be helpful for him in the other world. Before the surface of the grave is handled, enough time is given for the soil of grave to settle down. The time is usually a year later. A tombstone stands on the head side of the grave. Stone, concrete or recently marble can be used to construct graves. While graves may be constructed on public grounds, there are also ones built on family property. Family graves are formed in the large cemeteries of some cities. The tombstone is decorated and on it the first and last names as well as time of birth and death of the deceased sometimes with a couple of literary words are inscribed. Each of the tombstones has a historical document quality in terms of reflecting the era constructed. Stepping on graves is prohibited and people are cautious against animals to enter these areas.

In Southern Azerbaijan, after the burial, to solace the ones in the funeral house, condolences are passed by way of visits to the house or the grave of the deceased. These condolence visits continue for a while. In the meantime, food is cooked and distributed for 3-7 days in the house the deceased left. Special days are held in remembrance of the deceased on the third, seventh, fortieth days of his death and after one year by performing religious ceremony and food service. During these special days: the third, seventh, fortieth day of the deceased as well as on bairams and on Thursdays, halvah is cooked and given out especially in cemeteries. Private belongings of the deceased are kept in the house as souvenirs while many handed out to the poor.

If a wedding is to take place on the same location of the funeral, permission is asked from the funeral house. The grief and sorrow with the loss of an acquaintance or someone we feel close to is experienced within social clich鳠and this process is called ?mourning?. Those in the funeral house and the relatives of the deceased do not partake in entertaining occasions and do not wear new garments for some time (from 40 days up to 1-2 years). In some regions men do not shave for 40 days. Requiems are performed for the funeral. There is longer lamenting if the deceased is a young one.

The soul of the deceased is believed to be wondering around everywhere and at times visiting his house and leaving pleased if something is carried out on his behalf and unhappy if not. Tomb visits are performed mostly on religious feasts and especially on Thursdays. People pray beside the tomb, light candles and give out halvah during these visits.

(Our South Azerbaijan)