Funeral Traditions From All Over the World

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Funeral Planning Chantilly Virginia and other U.S cities have similar elements. Usually, family and friends wear black or white clothing and come together to honor the deceased. They take their seats for a memorial ceremony where they pray or share stories about the dead and offer condolences. The hearse then arrives and brings the body to its final resting place, with the bereaved trailing behind it.

The funeral norm in the U.S is vastly different from those of other countries since different cultures have various beliefs and traditions regarding death. However, love and respect for the departed is the common motivation for these ceremonies.

Funeral Traditions From All Over the World

Dancing With Coffins in Ghana

You may have seen this on the internet lately, men carrying a coffin on their shoulders while dancing to an unusually upbeat instrumental. These men, dressed in black suits, sunglasses, and white gloves, are Ghana’s dancing pallbearers. The coffin dancing industry flourished in the 1990s to respond to the demand of bringing joy in an otherwise somber occasion.

Ghanaian funerals for people who died naturally or of old age last for days and often have open bars, full buffets, live bands, and dancers. However, people who departed abruptly or young have solemn memorials.

Burial in the Sky in Mongolia and Tibet

Mongolia and Tibet’s population are mainly Buddhists. One teaching of Vajrayana Buddhism strongly emphasizes the inevitability of death and the acceptance that it can come at any time. Tibetan Buddhists also believe that the soul leaves the body as an empty vessel after death.

Vajrayana Buddhists also believe that they need to return their loved ones’ remains to the earth through a sky burial. It starts with wrapping the corpse in a white cloth and then placing it in the corner of the house for three to five days. Meanwhile, the lamas and monks read sutras, or Buddhist scriptures, out loud while everyone remains quiet. The family will then choose a special day and ask a body carrier to take the corpse, which is bent in a fetal position, to a mountain top. Once at the site, the burial master will create smoke to attract vultures and condors that will feed on the body.

Burning Pyres in Bali

According to Balinese tradition, the soul of the deceased restarts the rebirth cycle once it is free through cremation, which is not unusual in Indonesia since it’s a predominantly Hindu country. Balinese cremation, or Ngaben, uses an open pyre to incinerate the corpse. The whole memorial often has a festive atmosphere, focusing on celebrating the life of the departed loved one.

The ceremony starts with a procession. The family then places the body on a pedestal or tower, which marks the most solemn part of the event. The priest lights a fire from a blessed flame source and starts the funeral pyre. After the body turns to ashes, the priest will bless it with holy water, and the family scatters the ashes at sea. Group Ngabens are also common since it can be difficult for a single family to pay for the whole ceremony.

Jazz Funeral in New Orleans, Louisiana

New Orleans is a melting pot of cultures. This is why it’s not surprising that its famous funeral procession has influences from African, French, and American sensibilities. New Orleans’ funeral tradition promotes the celebration of the life of the deceased.

The procession includes a band, and they usually sing sorrowful elegies but shift to upbeat songs once the body is buried. Dancing is also acceptable during this ceremony.

Celebrating with Skeletons in Madagascar

The Malagasy people have a ritual called famadihana or “the turning of the bones” in English. Once every five or seven years, family members exhume the remains of their ancestors. They then clean the bones and spray it with expensive perfume or wine. The family then takes the skeleton back to their home to dance with it and introduce it to the younger generation.

Often, Malagasy people do this to pass family news to the deceased and ask for their blessings. For others, it’s a duty to educate the young ones about the stories of their ancestors and the wisdom they offer.

Remembering the dead is deeply ingrained in humanity. The varying cultures reflect the differences in beliefs and values and also prove that care for our friends and family transcends life. Funeral planning in Chantilly, Virginia is vastly different from preparing funeral pyres in Bali, Indonesia, but it represents the same hope that our loved ones get to a better place after death.

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