Funeral Traditions From Around The World

It is believed that humans have been burying their dead since the time of the neanderthals. Some cultures do this as a mark of respect, others to ward off potential diseases and many more – including the ancient Greeks – believed this was part of the process of preparing the deceased for the afterlife.

In the Western world burial and cremation remain the most popular ways of treating the bodies of our loved ones, perhaps something experts such as Beyond are more used to helping you deal with.

Those dramatic Viking burials, with the long boats set ablaze and pushed out to sea, and the Egyptian technique of mummification are two of the more common processes from history that we remember today.

But many, many more weird and wonderful ceremonies are still being carried out across the globe today…

Environmentally Friendly Burials

Beverley Hills 90210 actor Luke Perry hit the headlines when he was buried in a mushroom suit. Made from organic cotton and material from mushrooms, the eco-friendly outfit helps nutrients from the body feed nearby plants while also reducing the bodies toxic pollutants.

With the future of the planet very much on peoples’ minds, others are opting to be buried in willow caskets which decompose into the ground.

Endocannibalism

Perhaps another eco-friendly method, but certainly not one that will catch on in many parts of the world soon! Yes, eating the flesh of the dead is still practised by some cultures in parts of the world, including the Jukun of West Africa, Aghori of Asia, the Fore People of Papua New Guinea and several groups in South America.

Turning The Dead Into Beads

Perhaps more decorative than an urn in the corner of the room, this South Korean trend turns your loved ones into colourful beads that can be stored in jars or glass containers.

This is a novel way for the densely populated nation, which is running out of space to bury its dead, to deal with the issue. And it is proving more popular than you may think, with several thousands of people already being displayed in this way.

Famadihana

The Malagasy people of Madagascar believe in the importance of remembering those who have passed away.

Every seven years they carry out the Famadihana tradition – the turning of the bones – where the bodies of ancestors are exhumed and wrapped in fresh cloth. The names of the dead are then written on the cloth.

It's a jovial affair, with corpses carried over the heads of those in attendance, while they dance to live music.

Novelty Coffins

Forget the traditional casket, in Ghana they like the coffin to reflect the lives of the people they're carrying.

In a nation that likes funerals to be an uplifting celebration of a life, the bodies are often held in custom-made coffins to reflect the individual. Giant shoes, mobile phones, fish and even cola bottles are among the many novelty coffins to have been made.

Sky Burial

This Tibetan practice, often carried out by monks, sees the copse cut into pieces and left on a mountain top for the birds to feast on. With the emphasis very much on the soul, the body is deemed an empty vessel.
It is also carried out in parts of China and Mongolia.

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