While every culture from across the globe might seem very different at first, they each have three aspects in common when it comes to rituals around death: ceremonies, special places for burial or placement, and some sort of memorial or monument. However, some aspects of our culture might seem strange to others just as aspects of other cultures might seem strange to us.
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Whether you’re working on a research project, satisfying curiosity, or preparing for your eventual passing or the passing of a loved one, this information on interesting global funeral and cremation traditions, such as what death rituals we have in common with other cultures and in which ones we differ, is here to help.
These are just a few traditions from around the world, but they offer inspiration for your own planning and inspire tolerance for those who are different from us. In Mexico, The Day of the Dead, or el Día de Los Muertos, is an annual festival in which people set up altars in their homes featuring photos of their deceased ancestors as well as offerings like food, candles, flowers, and drinks. The idea is that the ancestor photos will summon them from the land of the dead so they can enjoy the offerings and visit with their living family members. Sikhs believe in reincarnation. However, most choose to be cremated when they die. Before cremation, the body is washed and dressed in traditional Sikh attire then placed in a casket while those gatherings recite prayers and read scripture from the Guru Granth Sahib. More prayers are recited during the cremation, and afterward, the remains are either buried in scattered water. The entire funeral service industry is built on traditions.
The Malagasy tribe of Madagascar has a tradition called “Famadihana,” which means “the turning of the bones.” Every five or seven years, the people of the tribe will remove the bodies of their deceased loved ones from their graves, wrap them in fresh burial clothes, spritz them with fragrance, and even dance with them. This ritual is viewed as a way to reconnect with the dead and ask them for blessings. The Nordic people in Northern Europe are very connected to the sea, even in death. They traditionally set bodies adrift on the sea in coffin boats or lay coffins on cliffs facing the water.
In the Islamic religion, bodies remain in their caskets until Judgement Day when they will be physically resurrected. Because of this belief, bodies must be buried within twenty-four hours of a death to ensure the body is in the best possible condition. In India, the bereaved traditionally dress the deceased in bright colors that represent their best virtues, such as yellow for knowledge and red for purity, and parade them through the streets. Afterward, they sprinkle the bodies with holy water and cremate them.
Do you want more information on global death rituals or Lewisburg, PA funeral homes? We are here to help. Call or visit us today to learn more about what we can do for you in your time of loss or preplanning.