At several burials that I have attended, I noticed that they (I assume the funeral home) had written the word rosh ("head") on the top of the coffin, indicating which way the body's head was located.
Before lowering the coffin, the rabbi indicated the people to rotate the coffin so that the head faces a certain way when lowered into the ground.
- Which way is the head supposed to face - east / west. etc. What if the grave is not configured in an east - west direction?
- Why must it face in that direction?
- Sources for the above.
I assume that the rabbi may be following the alignment of neighboring graves and assumes that the head should be in line (same direction) as the neighboring markers (e.g. head closest to the headstone).
But, of course, if the body were buried in an open field or somewhere that had no markers, is there a preferred direction?