5 Unique Cultural Funeral Traditions From Around the World

5 Unique Cultural Funeral Traditions From Around the World

Death affects every culture, and everyone has different rituals and ceremonies for honoring the deceased. These various ceremonies have deep cultural roots originating generations ago. Here are five unique cultural funeral traditions from around the world.

Filipino Tradition

The Igorot people practice a particularly unique funerary tradition in the Philippines on the island of Luzon. In this culture, the elders will carve their own coffins, which the Igorots will nail to the side of a cliff after their death. The purpose is to lessen the distance between the deceased person and their ancestral spirits—the higher on the cliff, the closer to the heavens.

Hawaiian Tradition

In Hawaii, surf culture is very prevalent, and one of the funerary traditions that have become popular is paddle-out ceremonies. These floating memorial services take place in the water, and people will gather in a circle on surfboards to say a few words for the deceased. Then after the ceremony, people will throw their lei into the ocean, which is one of the ways that Hawaiian memorial lei pay respect to the dead.

Tibetan Tradition

The funeral ceremonies of Tibet may be off-putting to some, but they are full of deep spiritual symbolism. Buddhism is the popular spiritual belief system in Tibet, and Buddhists believe in the circle of life. So, for their funeral rituals, the Tibetan people will practice a “sky burial,” where they leave the deceased body outside for animals to eat. The purpose of this ceremony is to allow the spirit to depart to the heavens while the human vessel of the body returns to the circle of life by nourishing other living creatures.

Zoroastrian Tradition

The Zoroastrian burial tradition is similar to the Tibetan tradition, but for vastly different reasons. The Zoroastrian people believe death to be evil and that dead bodies and decaying matter are unclean. Therefore, they built “Towers of Silence” to lay deceased bodies on top of, so vultures would come to eat them. In the 1970s, Iranian officials outlawed these funerary towers, but the tradition continues in certain parts of the world.

Cajan Tradition

One of the most joyful funeral traditions comes from the Cajan culture in the New Orleans, Louisiana area. The people of New Orleans honor their lost loved ones with an elaborate funeral procession full of music and dancing. A jazz band leads the procession to the cemetery with slower, melancholy songs. Then once the burial is complete, the band plays upbeat, celebratory tunes, and everyone engages in song and dance to send off their loved one in style.

Now that you know five interesting funeral traditions from different cultures, you will better understand how other people around the world honor their lost loved ones. Learning about other cultures and their ceremonies and rituals helps us to expand our awareness of others and have more respect for one another overall.

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