Death is always a dark time in anyone’s moment and finding out that a loved one has passed away is extremely difficult. However, the burying process can make grief easier, and it also allows people to celebrate the life of the deceased. Different religions and cultures have different beliefs and these impact the way funerals take place across the globe.
This article will discuss the different types of interesting traditions around the world, which are in place to remember the life of the dead one as well as release their soul.
Sky Burial, Tibet
Tibet is known for its immense Buddhist culture within a culture. They hold significant spiritual beliefs and values, which contribute to the methods they use to celebrate the death of a loved one. Sky burial is a process they use in this country. Buddhists believe that they are required to help send the soul of a deceased loved one to heaven. In the sky burial ritual, bodies are usually cut up into pieces and fed to vultures. This may seem grim for the majority of individuals, but it serves the purpose to break the body apart, thus releasing the soul into heaven.
Water Burial, Nordic countries
This is not a ritual that is currently seen widely, but it was prominent mostly within Scandinavian countries. Water is considered a pure element to cleanse the soul of the dead. Water burial rituals entail the use of ships, whereby they contain the coffins of the deceased. They are then sent out into the ocean as a way to give the dead body back to the gods.
Cremation is a ritual that is used across the world, in several religions. Cremations essentially involve the use of intense heat to decompose the body and turn it into ashes. Although this process is sometimes mandatory if there are medical concerns, many cultures using this method believe that the body traps the soul and cremation is the only way that the spirit is released from the body so that it can go towards the afterlife. Although some people scatter the ashes of the deceased, not every religion supports this practice and rather people keep the ashes in an urn. These urns can be personalized and decorated with the name of the deceased or even unicorn patterns. The decoration should highlight the personality of your loved one.
The Parade, India
Having festivals to celebrate the dead is not unusual in many countries. Although death never comes easy, grieving is easier when we remember that the life of the deceased individual needs to be celebrated and all the positives remembered. In some parts of India, such as Varanasi, when someone passes away, their loved ones parade through the streets, whilst wearing specific colors to emphasize the qualities of the dead. The body is then splashed with water from the Ganges River before being cremated.
The people from Madagascar have a very specific tradition not only to bury the dead bodies, but that is ongoing to the celebration and memory of the once-living individual. This ritual consists of the tombs to be opened, and the families rewrap the deceased with fresh burial clothes. As this occurs, loved ones play music and dance around the tomb. They believe this speeds up the body’s decomposition and encourages the spirits to reach the afterlife. They use flat grave markers around the grave.
Tower of Silence, Iran
In ancient times in Iran, individuals used to hold the belief that a dead body defiles anything it touches, therefore it should be kept underground. The first step of this method includes the purification of the body – This ritual involves cleaning the lifeless body with bull’s urine and the clothes are cut off. The prepared body would then be placed on a large circular structure (hence the name tower) as vultures feast on the body – this was believed to be a clean way to dispose of the remains whilst also allowing the spirit to be freed.
Ashes to Death Beds, South Korea
As we mentioned previously, several cultures opt to cremate the body of the deceased instead of burying it underground. What happens to the ashes after this is the discretion of the individuals’ culture. Although it can be customary for people to scatter ashes in a special place, others keep them in urns in burial grounds or even at home. In South Korea, the tradition differs slightly. In this kind of Asian funerals, they turn the ashes of their loved ones into beads. The beads come in a variety of colors and are usually made of glass. South Koreans utilize these as decorative pieces in their home. This is an alternative way to keep the loved one close that does not involve keeping the ashes in an urn.
Although death is not a nice topic, knowing how different cultures celebrate is very interesting. This page should give you an idea of the diversity around the world when it comes to funeral traditions, but there are many more.