The Significance of Mormon Burial Garments
29 SEP 2017
Mormons follow the teachings of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, which maintains that a plain white undergarment shall be worn beneath the clothing at all times. A Mormon should sleep in their garment and perform all their daily tasks while wearing it, and upon death the clothing becomes their burial garment as well. The Mormon burial garment takes on many different meanings throughout life and a distinct importance in death.
The teachings of the Mormon church state that only a member of the church who has been endowed may wear the temple clothing that later becomes their burial garment. Endowment is the process of education within the church where a Mormon learns their religion's sacred rituals and covenants with God from established church elders. If a Mormon is buried without the traditional white garment it signifies that they were not endowed by the church in their lifetime, perhaps being a young child or a recent convert.
The burial garment worn throughout life by an endowed Mormon takes on many different meanings. The same type of plain white garment is worn by all Mormons symbolizing "the equality of all before God," according to Paul Dredge of Brigham Young University's Religious Studies Center. Wearing the garment is also an expression of commitment to the holy Savior and some Mormons believe it protects the individual against sin and evil.
The plain burial garment also holds sentimental value. Often an individual's mother sews the garment by hand and gives it as a gift to their child once they've been endowed by the church. Yet while family involvement in the construction of the burial garment is personally significant to many Mormons, the Church still sanctions how the clothing is made by distributing approved sewing kits to Mormon families.
Because the burial garment is worn by a Mormon for most of his or her life it takes on an additional significance of continuity "Mormons go to the grave wearing what could be regarded as a symbol of fertility," writes Dredge, noting that the same garment is worn by a Mormon for their wedding ceremony and their own funeral.