A funeral is a very solemn and sad affair, especially when it is for a loved one. Sadly, these events will be a part of everybody’s lives at least once or twice. No matter what country or culture you belong to, grief is always very difficult to deal with. The sentiments may be the same, but the actual funeral ceremony differs in many ways. This article looks at some different cultures across the world and sees how they go about saying goodbye to their deceased friends and relatives.
Maasai Tribe – Predator Burial
The Maasai tribe are renowned nomads, and they spend most of their lives wandering around the East African bush, eking out an existence. When it comes to saying goodbye to a tribe member who has passed away, they have a unique approach that mirrors their own lifestyle. The Maasai do not believe in a single being or entity, they worship something known as Enkai. This is a deity who is part of the earth and the sky and everything below. Special burial ceremonies are only held for Maasai chiefs, if an ordinary member should pass away, the body is simply left in the bush for predators to consume. They do not believe in the afterlife and see this as a way of cleansing the earth.
Cave Burial – Hawaii
Hawaii has some of the most breath-taking scenery on the planet, and some of this is used for the funeral process. The deceased body is placed in a cave, usually found in the cliffs that surround much of the coastline. It is moved into a fetal position and the feet and hands are tied to maintain this shape. The body is also covered in a tapa cloth that is made using mulberry bark. This process is believed to have some effect on the diving power that is bestowed on the deceased’s family. Diving is still a large part of Hawaiian culture to this very day.
Skull Burial – Kiribati
In Kiribati, the corpse is placed in the family house for as long as ten or twelve long days. Visiting friends and relatives come to pay their respects and bring an offering for the deceased. This is a dessert that is made from a local plant, it is a mandatory activity. The body is then interned for two months, after this the body is recovered and the skull is removed by the relatives. This is then cleaned up and polished, as the body is returned to the ground. The skull is retained and takes pride of place on a shelf. The family make regular offerings to the skull, and this is believed to please the god Nakaa.
Fire Burial – Bali
The beautiful island of Bali is home to a very ancient form of human burial. The Hindu religion dictates that the body of the deceased must pass through fire before leaving this mortal coil. After passing, the body is left on a table in front of the family home, food and other gifts are placed next to the corpse. The body is then added to a mass burial site, along with other fallen village members. Eventually these bodies are placed on a large float and paraded through the village. After this process, the float is set alight and the bodies are all consumed by flames to mark their passing with honour.
Richard Earnshaw overlooks Cremation in New Haven, CT. An Undertaker by profession, he has been doing this job for considerable amount of time. He has great regards for different cultures and so has listed some interesting aspects of their funerals in today’s post.
Photo Credit: Derrick Tyson (CC BY 2.0)
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