World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article


Article Id: WHEBN0000702456
Reproduction Date:

Title: Pyre  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Cremation, Tumulus, Treblinka extermination camp, Rössen culture, Indigenous peoples of the Americas
Collection: Burial Monuments and Structures, Cremation, Fire
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia


An Ubud cremation ceremony in 2005

A pyre (Greek: πυρά; pyrá, from πῦρ, pyr, "fire"),[1][2] also known as a funeral pyre, is a structure, usually made of wood, for burning a body as part of a funeral rite or execution. As a form of cremation, a body is placed upon or under the pyre, which is then set on fire.


  • Uses 1
    • Secular 1.1
  • Environmental impact in India 2
  • Western world and legality 3
  • See also 4
  • References 5
  • External links 6


The funeral pyre of Chan Kusalo (the Buddhist high monk of Northern Thailand) at Wat Chedi Luang, Chiang Mai, Thailand

Traditionally, pyres are used for the cremation of the dead in the Hindu and Sikh religions, a practice which dates back several thousands of years.[3] Funeral pyres were also used in Viking and Roman culture.[4]


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 by the Nazis to cremate the bodies of 1,500,000+ prisoners in Belzec, Sobibor and Treblinka extermination camps, as opposed to the crematoria used in other camps. Pyres have also been used to dispose of large quantities of livestock in agriculture, particularly those infected with disease.[4]

Environmental impact in India

A traditional Hindu funeral pyre takes six hours and burns 500–600 kilograms (1,102–1,323 pounds) of wood to burn a body completely.[5] Every year fifty to sixty million trees are burned during cremations in India, which results in about eight million tonnes of carbon dioxide or greenhouse gas emissions.[5] Air pollution, deforestation and large quantities of ash, which are later thrown into rivers, adding to the toxicity of their waters, pose great environmental problems.

Mokshda, a Delhi-based emissions are cut by up to 60%.[5]

Western world and legality

While funeral pyres are still used in several cultures they are uncommon and even illegal in some countries, particularly in the Western World.[4] Despite cremation being commonplace, open air cremations in the United Kingdom were thought to be unlawful under the Cremation Act 1902 – although in recent years, some have taken place amongst immigrant communities.[4] In February 2010, a court of appeals in the United Kingdom ruled that a cremation on an open pyre would be legal inside of a building with an open roof, well away from roads and homes.[6] In the U.S., a group in Crestone, Colorado has obtained legal permission and created a permanent cement pyre structure to perform around 12 “open-air cremations” a year.[7]

See also


  1. ^ πυρά, πῦρ. Scott, Robert; A Greek–English Lexicon at the Perseus Project.
  2. ^ Harper, Douglas. "pyre".  
  3. ^ Norfolk, Andrew (13 July 2006). Illegal' funeral pyre burnt in secret"'". The Times (London). Retrieved 19 January 2011. 
  4. ^ a b c d Fernando, Shehani (14 July 2006). "The question: Why are funeral pyres illegal?". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 19 January 2011. 
  5. ^ a b c Kermeliotis, Teo (17 September 2011). "India's burning issue with emissions from Hindu funeral pyres". CNN. Retrieved 4 July 2013. 
  6. ^ Taylor, Matthew (10 February 2010). "Hindu man wins court battle for open-air cremation pyre". The Guardian (London). 
  7. ^ Moreno, Ivan (31 January 2011). "Funeral Pyres An Option In Crestone". CBS Denver (Denver). Retrieved 4 May 2011. 

External links

  • Ancient Roman funeral pyres
  • Earth Again Pyre Project
This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from World eBook Library are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.