Funeral Traditions Around the World
Every country and culture have their ways of taking care of those who have passed on. Some funeral traditions may well meet with disapproval from some.
They all have one thing in common, and that is to give the dead a right royal send-off. Do you shudder at the thought of a sombre, sorrowful funeral? Then you will appreciate the way they do it in eastern Indonesia.
Funeral traditions can be festive, raucous affairs involving the entire village and can go on for some days. A sacrificial water buffalo will then carry the deceased’s soul to the afterlife.
There are many Strange funeral traditions from Around the World
Here are some of the strange ways people dispose of their dead.
One of the funeral traditions of African Americans, which has African influence, is to place personal belongings of the deceased on top of the grave. These items can include cups, plates and toothbrushes – items that the deceased will be able to use in the after-life.
Burial practices differ quite a bit throughout Australia with the Aborigines. In the Northern parts, for instance, the living place the dead body on an elevated wooden platform covered with leaves and branches. They then leave it to rot. Then they collect the bones and paint them with red ochre, and eventually disperse them in different ways.
The Malagasy people of Madagascar have a funeral tradition called ‘famadihana’ which means turning of the bones. Every five years or so, a family celebrates at its family crypt where they exhume the bodies and spray them with wine. There is lively music, and the family members can dance with the remains of the dead and pass on the news of those left behind to them.
In Africa, the Maasai people of East Africa believe that an actual burial is for the Chiefs only as a sign of respect. The common people among them are left outside for predators to drag them away. The Maasai believe that dead bodies are harmful to the earth.
Burial at Sea
Burial at sea has been the norm for sailors the world over, and the captain of a ship has the authority to conduct an official sea-burial. In a burlap bag weighted with rocks, the body would be slid overboard to its watery grave.
Sky burial in Mongolia and Tibet is believed to be the norm still in the 21st century with many Tibetans. Vajrayana Buddhists in Mongolia and Tibet believe in the transmigration of spirits after death. They believe that the soul moves on and that the body is just an empty vessel. So as to return it to the earth, the living survivors then chop up the body into pieces and then place it on a mountain top to disintegrate.
We are One in Death
The human race is not as different as what many think. We all have a body, and every one of us will die at one stage or another. Death is a universal event, and each culture deals with death and burials in its way.
Which one appeals to you the most? It is interesting and intriguing to explore the different cultures of the world particularly the funeral traditions to see what strange funeral customs make them so unique.
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* More about funeral traditions around the world here