I’ve never really thought about how I wanted to be buried until quite recently. It may seem morbid but I believe that in a world where you have so many things that you can’t really control, might as well be prepared for those that you CAN control…No? And so this got me wondering about burial rituals around the world. How is it done in other cultures?
Ghana: Fantasy coffins
In Ghana (Africa) death is not an end, but a transition to the spiritual realm of the ancestors. It is believed that if the deceased is properly honored, such actions secure spiritual favor for the family left on earth. Each sculpted coffin is unique as it is artfully designed to capture the very essence of the departed. This could be depicted by one’s character trait, one’s job, or even the symbol of one’s standing in the community or what one hoped to achieve in the afterlife.
Madagascar: Famadihana (Turning of the bones)
This custom, practiced by the tribes of the Malagasy highlands, brings together the crowds between July and October. The goal is to honor the dead and, incidentally, to have one’s wishes granted 🙏. The bodies of the loved ones are exhumed, delicately wrapped once again in clean cloth and are the object of processions and dances. No time for tears and sorrow. This ritual is a time to feast and celebrate with a great deal of music, dances and songs washed down with generous swipes of alcohol of all kinds.
Tibet: Sky Burials
In the video below Tibet Travel explains the ritual which is of great religious significance in Tibet Buddhism. People’s bodies are merely vessels, and the spirit of the deceased does not perish through physical death. A belief that brings to mind the famous story of how, in a previous life, the Buddha took pity on a starving tigress, who might otherwise have had to eat her newborn cubs. One’s physical envelope being of little importance compared to one’s soul. It is taken by the holy bird, vultures, to heaven, where it is reincarnated into another circle of life, never to die.
The video explains how traditionally, the sky burial is held three days after the death of the deceased at the celestial burial platform near a monastery. A Tibetan Lama will chant around the corpse to redeem the sins of the soul, and a professional sky burial master will deal with the body for vultures to eat. Tibetan believes that the cleaner the body was pecked by the vultures, the more sinless the person was.
New Orleans: Jazz burials
Carrying vestiges of African funeral rituals and originally intended to celebrate the new-found freedom of a departed slave, the jazz funerals of New Orleans have evolved to become one of the most respected ways to exalt the life of a loved one. A symbol of life, death and rebirth all together, the New Orleans jazz funeral salutes a life well lived and the passage of a departed soul into a better world. A typical funeral began with a slow march from the home of the deceased to the church or funeral home. The march may include the procession of the coffin and was accompanied by a brass band playing somber dirges and hymns. After the memorial service, the march would proceed to the cemetery; the tone remaining somber. Passersbys, referred to as the “second line”, are welcomed to join in and go along with the mourners to the cemetery. Once the body is cut loose and buried, mourners in turn cut loose and the brass band continue to play more hymns with a gradually more swinging beat. “Music🎷🎺🎶 here is as much a part of death as it is of life.” (Sidney Bechet)
United States: Eternal Reef
This company in the US called Eternal Reefs compresses remains into a sphere or reef ball🐟🐠 that is attached to a Reef balls are the only designed to replicate the natural substance that Mother Nature usually uses for her reef development. Thus, providing a habitat for sea life and contributing to saving the dying reefs. This memorial is a true living legacy offering permanent benefit in the marine environment. The departed ones are living a second life! I think this is my favorite 👍💓I’ve always loved to fall asleep to the sound of waves.
Discover more in this video:
One more thing that we all have in common: all men will die at some point in time. And when that moment comes, we all wish for the same thing: peace and serenity for the departed and for those left behind.
We are not that different after all!