Funeral Traditions from around the world

In Madagascar they have a famous ritual called “famadihana” which means “turning of the bones”. Every five or seven years, family members gather at the family crypt. Live music is played whilst family members exhume the bones, they are then wrapped in cloth and sprayed with wine or perfume. Family members dance with the bones giving them a chance to pass family news onto their loved ones and asking for the bones to be blessed.

The Benguet of the North Western Philippines have an interesting funeral tradition. The deceased is dressed in their best clothes, blind folded and a lit cigarette placed in their lips and placed next the main entrance next to the house. A traditional burial into the ground then takes place a few days later. Whereas, their neighbours who live in Manila bury their dead in a hollowed-out tree trunk. If they know they’re going to die they are able to select the tree where they are eventually entombed.

Moving on to Tibet, the Vajrayana Buddhists believe in the transmigration of spirits after death. Whilst the body is only an empty vessel, the soul moves onto another world. To return the body to earth, it is chopped into pieces and placed on a mountain top, exposing it to all the elements including vultures. Eighty percent of Tibetans still use this method know as the Sky burial.

Finally, when a loved one dies in Aboriginal society in Australia’s Northern Territory, elaborate rituals are held. A smoking ceremony takes place to drive away the sprit, followed by a grand feast where mourners are painted ochre (a rust colour) as they celebrate by dancing and eating food. The body is then placed on top of a platform, covered in leaves and left to naturally decompose.

All round the world strong historical traditions, some which go back hundreds of years are still upheld just as they are in the United Kingdom. Whilst funerals have changed in the UK over the last 20 years, people still opt for the traditional funeral ceremony including use of Victorian horses and solid oak coffin.