The funerals most of us have attended have generally been the same. They either consist of a burial service or a cremation service followed by other ceremonies. The friends and acquaintances visit to pay their condolences to the bereaving family. Though this is the general idea of a funeral service for us, it is much deeper and different for people around the globe.
The way we grieve, commemorate, and dispose of our dead varies greatly from culture to culture, but some traditions take funerals to a different level. Here are some fascinating funeral rituals from around the world.
In parts of Indonesia, among the people known as Torajans, it is believed that demise is a gradual journey and not a sudden occurrence. Their funeral process involves the whole village and takes place anywhere between weeks and months. The body stays with the family even after what others may refer to as dead. The Torajans see it as a sickness and continue to take care of the body and talk to the loved one. The body is eventually placed in a stone grave or cave, and even after years, it is washed and redressed for certain rituals.
Buddhists in Tibet believe in the transmigration of the soul, which means that once the person has died, the body is just an empty vessel for them. As an act of generosity for wild animals such as vultures, the body is chopped into pieces and placed on mountaintops where it can be consumed. This ritual is known as a sky burial and makes complete sense from the Buddhist point of view.
A group of coffin makers in Ghana have made a remarkable business out of death. The people residing here believe that after demise life, carries on in another place in the same way it did before. And therefore, coffins are made in the shape of the thing that best symbolizes the deceased person’s life. It can be in the form of ships, buildings, animals, cars, and much more.
The residents of Madagascar have a famous ritual called “famadihana,” or “the turning of the bones.” In the efforts of getting the spirits of the dead into the afterlife, they dig up the remains of their family and rewrap it in fresh cloth. They then dance with the corpses on live music. For some its a chance to communicate with the deceased and for others its a time to remember the lost.
- The Philippines.
In the Philippines, there are many unique funeral practices. The Tinguian people dress the body of the deceased in good clothes and make them sit on a chair. They also put a lit cigarette in the mouth of the body. On the other hand, the Benguet people blindfold the dead bodies and place them at the main entrance of the house. The people of Cebuano dress their children in red at funerals to lessen their chances of seeing ghosts. The Cavite people entomb the gone in hollowed out trees chosen by the lost one.