We all have the right to grieve and pay our respects in our own way, sometimes honouring specific instructions left by the deceased or following a tradition or religious custom. Our research has shown that there certainly are some interesting rituals around the world. We have found 10 of the most fascinating funerals you must see to believe.
1) Taiwanese Funeral Celebrations
Slightly more unusual and carried out to varying levels, the people of Taiwan often hire strippers to attend the funeral in order to satisfy the wandering spirits. Used to liven up the party, strippers are known to provide dances to the mourners, although rarely stripping down to nothing. Strippers have even been known to dance on coffins and caskets. Loved ones who are not comfortable with this extreme celebration may opt for a slightly tamer ceremony, more along the lines of a New Orleans Jazz Funeral procession.
2) Closer to Heaven
Due to a belief that coffins should be elevated in order to be closer to heaven, an ancient ritual practiced by the old Chinese Dynasties involved suspending coffins from a cliff to allow their spirits to roam freely. Coffins were respectfully displayed in groups, like a suspended graveyard, ensuring that the deceased were as close to heaven as possible. This tradition is still practiced to this day, but on a much smaller scale.
Also referred to as ‘the turning of the bones’ it is a tradition of the Malagasy people of Madagascar to exhume the bodies of their loved ones every five to seven years. They then wrap the corpse in fresh cloth and the family will dance to live music with the corpse before returning the deceased to their grave. This tradition is also on the decline, but known to still take place.
4) The Fire Burial
Fire forms part of several burial rituals but on the Hindu Isle of Bali the deceased is interred into a mass grave until it is decided that there are sufficient bodies within the gave to hold a cremation. They believe that fire forms the transition to the next life. Before they are laid to rest in the grave the body is bathed and laid upon a table where food offerings are placed beside it for the journey. To notify other villagers that someone has passed, lanterns are lit to form a pathway between the body and their hut. This also symbolises their life to ensure they are not forgotten.
5) The Cave Burial
In the Hawaiian Islands, bones are considered sacred and therefore traditionally they opted to bury the deceased in a cave, where often the organs were removed and the body filled with salt to preserve it. The body was moved into a fetal position and covered with a cloth. Many caves in Hawaii still contain skeletal remains from this traditional burial ritual.
6) Burial Beads
In South Korea, where burial space is running out and a law has been passed forcing families to remove the deceased from their grave after 60 years, many more people are opting to be cremated. Rather than scattering the ashes, as is more common here in the UK, South Koreans are choosing to pay to have ashes pressed into beads. The beads can be made in a variety of colours and they are subsequently displayed around the home.
7) The Fantasy Coffin
Taking personalised coffins to the next level, it is traditional in Ghana for people to be buried in something that represents their lives, whether that is a hobby, interest or passion of the deceased. Coffins are created in shapes such as Mercedes cars, airplanes, shoes and even fish. These phenomenal coffins really are something to behold.
8) The Sky Burial
In Tibet it is tradition, especially for Buddhists who regard a dead body as an empty vessel, to cut the body up into pieces and place the body parts on a hill to become food for birds. Their belief is that by providing a feast for the birds they are being charitable, kind and compassionate.
9) Finger Amputation
Whilst not directly related to the deceased and more connected to their family members, it was a tradition in Papua New Guinea, among the Dani people, that any women and children related to the deceased must have some of their fingers amputated. The fingers would often be worn around their necks for years following the death. This ritual has since been banned.
10) The Jazz Funeral
Ending on a slightly lighter note, Jazz Funerals are often seen in New Orleans and mark a real celebration of life. A traditional Jazz Funeral will begin with a march from the home to the cemetery with a jazz band playing somber songs and some traditional hymns. Following the funeral service itself, once the body has been laid to rest, the precession resumes with much more upbeat jazz sounds. This part of the funeral is where the celebration of life really takes place and the dancing begins.
Whilst many of these funeral traditions may seem extreme and are on the decline or banned, it is possible to create something more unusual in this country to honour a loved one and celebrate their life. Our selection of personalised cardboard coffins provides the opportunity to say a fitting farewell with a coffin that beautifully depicts life. As individuals we are all different and here at Greenfield Coffins we believe people have the right to be as individual in death as they were in life.
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