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Funeral traditions around the world

October 12th, 2016    Author:

We take a look at some of the weird and wonderful funeral customs around the world…

Madagascar’s turning of the bones

In Madagascar, the Malagasy people perform a ritual known as ‘famadihana’ or ‘the turning of the bones’. It involves exhuming the bodies of the deceased, re-wrapping them in fresh scarves or matting then spending time with them before re-burying them along with offerings of money or photos. The ritual, which includes dancing with the deceased while a live band plays, may seem macabre to us, but it’s seen as a chance to bring the family together again. During the ceremony, people pass news to their dead relatives or reminisce about their life together.

New Orleans jazz funeral

Music is a key part of funerals in New Orleans. A funeral procession is led by a marching band playing slow, sad music while friends and family follow behind. When the burial or cremation is over the tempo of the music changes to more upbeat jazz and blues songs, such as ‘When the Saints Go Marching In’.  The funeral becomes a more joyful, celebratory occasion with everyone joining in with the singing and dancing.

Ghana’s customised coffins

Coffins shaped like a shoe or a mobile phone? Yes, in Ghana customised coffins are a familiar sight. It’s common for the deceased to be buried in a coffin that represents their job or something they loved, so a Church-lover may be laid to rest in a Bible-shaped coffin or a fisherman in a coffin built to resemble a fish. One businessman was buried in a coffin shaped like a Mercedes-Benz.

South Korea’s burial beads

Due to a lack of land and space for graves, the law in South Korea requires families who’ve buried their loved ones to remove them after 60 years. As a result, cremation has become more popular, but not everyone opts to store the deceased ashes in an urn. Instead, there’s a new tradition for having the remains compressed into decorative beads. Families then display the colourful, gem-style beads at home, often in a glass box.