Five Cultures that turn a funeral, into a celebration of life.
The human spirit is an indomitable thing, able to face much of the harshness of life and still persevere. All around the world there are cultures that decide to look grief in the eyes and instead celebrate life. From cremation celebrations to festivals of sound and life, human resilience can both inspiring and admirable. For them, a funeral is not about passing. Read about these five different types of funerals celebrated by cultures from around the world.
Known as the “Ngaben” or the “Palebon”, the people of Bali make sure that the end is celebrated in a glorious blaze. Originally taken from a Hindu celebration, the event involves the entire community and includes variations on the original ceremony that make it very unique to Bali. According to beliefs and customs, when someone passes, they are only in a transitional period leading to another life through reincarnation.
The family and friends treat the deceased as if though they are asleep. No tears are shed, no one gives in to sorrow, but instead they accept the knowledge that their loved one will live on through the next phase of their journey. After the body is placed in a coffin, the coffin is placed in a sarcophagus shaped in the form of a buffalo or in the shape of a temple structure. The day of the ceremony, the structure is set ablaze and the funeral procession begins a frenzy throughout the streets in an attempt to confuse evil spirits. The ceremony engages all the senses and is aimed at helping make sure the deceased achieve a successful reincarnation. It also serves a secondary purpose, to help the participants remember the principles they should live with.
It is not often that we see creativity and uniqueness expressed at a funeral, however the citizens of Ghana have decided to remake the experience. In Ghana the local populace has decided to celebrate how people have lived their lives. By creating caskets of various designs and shapes, they have made the funeral process a celebration of life. The designs that are built could range from anything such as a beautifully decorated fish, celebrating the deceased’s occupation or passion, or a type of car they were particularly fond of. The colors, shapes and beauty help put a smile on the mourners faces and is incredibly therapeutic in the grieving process.
Green funerals are becoming more and more popular within the United States. Many are opting out of the traditional burial and choosing something a little more environmentally friendly. Those that choose a green funeral often skip the embalming process altogether and choose environmentally friendly caskets. Often times these caskets as well as the shrouds are made from 100% biodegradable material, allowing the deceased to give back to the world one final time.
Perhaps some of the most festive funerals in America take place in New Orleans. The Big-Easy is known for its celebration of life through food, music and culture, it is not odd that they would treat loss in the same manner. With the culture being heavily influenced by both European and African throughout its history, it is amazing to see how the ceremony has changed over the years. A celebration of music and community, it is a symbol of the rich roots of New Orleans culture.
The funeral procession usually starts at a church or funeral home and proceeded by a brass band that begins to play while a glass plated hearse trails behind, being pulled by a white mule. The followers of the procession follow behind the procession and walk to the burial site, where they proceed to lower the body into the ground. As soon as the body is lowered, the band switches the tune of the procession to more up lifting music. This is done in celebration that the deceased is no longer burdened by the worries of the world.
The tradition of cremation is not a new one and in various places in Asia where burial grounds are becoming more and more difficult to come by, it is becoming more of the norm. Rather than taking the ashes however and putting them in an urn, more and more people are opting for another alternative in South Korea. South Korean Burial beads are becoming more and more popular due to laws that have sprouted due to lack of burial grounds. The process calls that the ashes of the deceased be turned into small beads that can be colored and housed in a variety of different containers.
HT May & Son funeral home has helped families and loved ones through the grieving process for more than a century. We have locations in Columbia, Boonville, Sedalia and Fayette Missouri. To find out about how to plan ahead, contact us today.