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Mourning Palestine

Death and Grief Rituals

Aref Abu-Rabia and Nibal Khalil

This article presents various mourning rituals and death rites as they are practised in Palestine. It focuses on differences in the mourning experience among fellahin and Bedouin Arabs but also shows certain parallels in their mourning and grieving customs. The article provides information on the prescribed set of rituals that Palestinians perform, beginning with how the body is treated and the way that it is prepared for burial. Combinations of mourning practices, which vary from rending one's garments to throwing earth on one's head, provide socially sanctioned expressions of grief and sorrow. Mourning practices differ between women and men: the former lament loudly and scratch their faces, while among the latter tears are neither encouraged nor welcomed. Parallels can be seen in these rituals with mourning for Palestine.