April 1, 2021

Around The World: Funeral Traditions

In the United States, funerals typically look relatively similar and, aside from a few changes here and there, funerals typically have a set pattern they follow. A typical funeral in the United States may look something like this:

  • After someone has passed away the body may be presented at a visitation or wake so loved ones can pay their respect.
  • A ceremony will follow within the next couple of days. The body may also be on display at the ceremony depending on if the family wanted an open or closed casket funeral.
  • A member of the family will typically read a eulogy.
  • The family will pay respects and the body will be buried in a cemetery or cremated. 

Not every culture is the same, but the majority of the time this is the type of funeral you will see in the US. In other countries, they do things very differently. 

Here is a list of different countries and what their funeral ceremonies might look like: 

South Korean Burial Beads

In 2000, South Korea passed a law that requires anyone burying a loved one to remove the grave after 60 years. Due to the dwindling graveyard space and this law, cremation has become a very popular option. Before the law was passed, 6 out of 10 South Koreans opted for burial whereas now only about 3 and 10 opt for burial. Some families who don’t opt for ashes can purchase gem-like beads in turquoise, pink or black. The remains are then compressed into these beads and displayed within the home. 

The “Death Beads” are not worn as jewelry, but are oftentimes placed inside glass containers and placed around the home as a way to keep the deceased nearby. Burial beads cost around $900.

Sky Burials in Mongolia and Tibet 

Vajrayana Buddhists in Mongolia and Tibet believe that souls are transmigrated into spirits after death. They believe that the soul moves on while the body becomes an empty vessel. In order to return the soul back to earth, the body is chopped into pieces and placed on a mountaintop where it is exposed to the elements – including vultures. This has been a tradition for thousands of years and according to The Buddhist Channel, nearly 80% of Tibetans still choose this tradition. 

Balinese Cremation 

was burned along with 68 commoners. Thousands of Balinesian’s carried a giant bamboo platform with an enormous bull and wooden dragon on the top. After the traditional ceremony, Suyasa’s body was placed inside the bull and burned as the dragon stood as a witness. In Balinese tradition, they believe that cremation is a way for the soul to be released from the body so it can find its way into someone new. Cremation is considered a sacred duty. 

Turning of the Bones: Madagascar 

The people of Madagascar practice a very famous ritual called “famadihana” or “turning of the bones.” Families have a celebration every five or seven years where they visit the ancestral crypt to dance with the bodies. The bodies are wrapped in cloth, exhumed and sprayed with wine or perfume while a band plays in the background. This is the family’s chance to pass news to the deceased and ask for their blessings. For others, it’s time to remember their loved ones and tell stories with the dead.

Ghana Fantasy Coffins 

When someone dies in Ghana, they are buried in coffins that represent their life work or something they loved dearly in life. Depending on their occupation they are buried in something that represents them. For example, a businessman was buried in a coffin-shaped like a Mercedes-Benz while a fisherman was buried in an oversized fish. 

Traditions Define Our Culture

No matter what your funeral traditions are, they play an important role in defining who you are and how your family mourns the loss of a loved one. At Wyuka, we’re here to help you through the grieving process and take the stress of the weight of your family. 

If you’re mourning the loss of a loved one or you have to make the hard decision to begin funeral planning, give us a call today. Our staff can walk you through everything that you’ll need to do in order to properly celebrate the life of your loved one. 




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