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  • Daulatpol gate in the Junagarh Fort (pictured) in India has 41 hand imprints of the wives of Maharajas of Bikaner, who committed sati (self-immolation) on the funeral pyres of their husbands?

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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

An Ubud cremation ceremony in 2005.

A pyre (Greek: πυρά, pyrá, from πυρ, pýr, fire) also known as a funeral pyre is a structure, usually made of wood, for burning a body as part of a funeral rite. As a form of cremation, a body is placed upon the pyre which is then set on fire. Pyre is wood used for burning.




Traditionally, pyres are used for the cremation of the deceased in the Hindu and Sikh religions, a practice which dates back several thousands of years.[1] Funeral pyres were also used in Viking culture, typically on floating boats, as well as by the Romans.[2]


Pyres and bonfires are used in celebrations and remembrance in services. Examples of these are Guy Fawkes Night in the United Kingdom and some Commonwealth countries, where the 'Guy' - either seen as an effigy of Guy Fawkes or the Pope is burned.

Funeral pyres were used in the Sobibór extermination camp to cremate bodies as opposed to the crematoriums used in most camps. Pyres have also been used to dispose of large quantities of livestock in agriculture, particularly those infected with disease.[2]

Western world and legality

Whilst funeral pyres are still used in several cultures, they are very uncommon and even illegal in some cultures, particularly in the Western World.[2] Despite cremation being commonplace, open air cremations in the United Kingdom are unlawful under the Cremation Act 1902 - although in recent years, some have taken place amongst immigrant communities.[2]

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