Funeral Customs part 3

Fancy hearing some more bizarre funeral rituals that go beyond a traditional burial with marble headstones?

Jewish mourners will take part in a mourning ritual known as ‘sitting shiva’. This is where friends and family will go to the Shiva house and mourn for 7 days. A candle will be lit and all mirrors will be covered so they can concentrate on the mourning. This occurs immediately after the body is buried.

Hindu’s today will make their final pilgrimage to die in the city of Banaras on the Ganges River. This is where it is believed the cycle of death is broken and the soul will ascend to the world of their ancestors – Pitriloka. Over 80 funeral pyres are present along the river so the dead can be cremated although often this isn’t possible and the dead bodies will simply float down the river.

Some African tribes would fire spears and arrows over the dead to ward of evil spirits, these days a rifle is shot over the deceased and this is to mirror the age old practice.

In Japan, when a nobleman died, a whopping twenty to thirty slaves would be made to commit Hari Kari (the process of belly cutting) as a sign of respect. Friends and wives along with slaves would even be strangled in Fiji to honour the deceased.

In some areas of China they believe that the more people that attend your funeral and stand over your headstones the more luck will be bestowed on your relatives. The Chinese have even gone as far as hiring strippers to the after tears party in order for the whole event to be more popular.

Funeral Customs part 1

In England, our funeral customs are fairly traditional. Either a burial or cremation takes place. If a burial occurs, the body is left in the ground peacefully often with memorial gravestones at the head for respect. With cremations, the body is given back to the family in an urn for them to do as they wish. Other cultures and countries have some slightly more bizarre customs.

In Tibet, Buddhists believe that when you die, your soul leaves your body so the body is no longer needed to be respected or cared for. They choose to give the body back to the land by dismembering the body and leaving it high on a rock for the vultures to eat.

In Northern Vietnam the bodies are buried in the back garden of the deceased family but only after two years of it being buried in a paddy field. The body is then dug up, the bones cleaned and then re buried in the garden.

In ancient Rome, the eldest male relative would make sure he caught the last breath of the dying person.

In Madagascar, they have ceremonies called Famadihana. This is where they dig up the dead, parade the bones around the village and then in a new shroud bury the remains. The old shroud is then given to childless newlyweds who should place it on their bed to help with fertility.

There are many more so check out the next blog. It certainly makes our funeral customs and UK Gravestones seem a nice, safe choice.