It is worth noting that funeral rituals influence our experiences of death, and that these rituals are often based on local or regional cultural and religious factors. Some cultures prefer to keep the deceased as an active part of their living society, while others prefer to say goodbye with a grand funeral ceremony.
This week we thought we’d have a closer look at some of the fascinating cultural burial and funeral rituals that take place around the world. Be warned, some of these ceremonies are not for the faint hearted!
The Ma’nene Festival
In some remote villages in Indonesia, the Toraja people hold the Ma’nene Festival, or the ‘ceremony of cleaning corpses’ every three years. The ceremony involves local residents digging up and re-dressing the bodies of passed relatives in new clothing and parading them down the street in celebration of their lives. This festival is meant to signify that the dead are still a part of our lives, and the bodies are cleaned, re-wrapped, and placed in new coffins to slow decomposition.
A similar festival takes place in Madagascar, where the Malagasy people remove the bodies of their loved ones from their coffins to re-dress with fresh silk wrappings, perfume, and dance with. This ceremony is known as Famadihana, or ‘the turning of the bones’, and families hold one for their ancestors every five to seven years. In Malagasy culture, it is believed that the deceased remain as a part of the living until the body has fully decomposed, and so this ritual celebrates their lives during this period before they join with their ancestors.
In the most recent of our traditions, popularised in the 1950s by Ghanaian artist Kane Kwei, the Ga people of Ghana practice Abebuu Adekai, or the use of ‘fantasy coffins’, to bury their deceased. The Ga people are now famous for their creative and artistic coffin designs that represent the individual as what they loved during their lifetime. The Ga people have produced all manner of coffins to bury their loved ones in, and no design is off limits. Vehicles, vegetables, items of clothing, musical instruments, and animals like tigers, fish, and spiders have all been crafted as coffins to represent their owner.
Funeral rituals vary across the world, and in small local populations you can still find many intriguing festivals that celebrate the cycle of life and death, bring together living family to remember those who have passed, and keep the deceased as an active part of the living community.
If you think a unique, creative, or cultural funeral ceremony is the right choice for your loved one, a low-cost direct cremation is the best low-hassle option to allow you to celebrate their life in your own unique way with your family and loved ones. But there are plenty of funeral plan options available to match every need, from direct cremations to a full traditional funeral service. For an extra level of security and peace of mind, opt for an FCA approved direct cremation from a trustworthy funeral services provider.