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The Funeral Rituals of Three Different Cultures

Category: 

Grieving Process

Posted On: Oct 03, 2016

The Funeral Rituals of Three Different Cultures

In the Western, English-speaking world, we are used to certain funereal rituals and customs – such as wearing black to the service, cremating or burying the deceased in a casket, and so on. But of course, different religions and different cultures have different ways of ceremoniously coping with the passage of their loved ones. Here's a look at a three of them.

Bahai

If you're ever at a Bahai funeral, you might be surprised (or even offended if you don't know Bahai practices) how casually people are dressed. The Bahai believe that the family and friends of the deceased, rather than religious texts, should determine the dress code and certain other details of the funeral. If the departed's friends and family wish it to be a casual affair, so it shall be, and this is not uncommon in Bahai funerals.

But the Bahai are more rules-heavy about other aspects of passing. They do not permit embalming of the deceased unless required by law, and they do not permit the remains of the deceased to be buried more than an hour away from the place of death because they shun holding geographical places pious.

Yanomami

The Yanomami people are one of the largest indigenous groups of South America, with over slightly over 36,000 people spread between Southern Venezuela and Northwestern Brazil. Like many indigenous tribes, they are a deeply ritualistic peoples, and their death rites are no exception.

Endocannibalism, which is essentially the practice of eating the dead, is rarely practiced anywhere in the world. In fact, its existence is largely a myth of propaganda, used for centuries by various colonizers to smear local populations and make them appear beast-like and uncouth.

But the Yanomami do practice a form of it. No, they don't eat the flesh off the dead. But after letting the bodies decompose for 30-45 days (so that insects and other scavengers can break down the body, in deference to nature) and then cremate the body The ashes are added to a soup-like mix. This mixture is then eaten, but only on the yearly Day of Remembrance. That is also the only time where it is permitted to speak of the deceased person. If there are any ashes left over, they are placed in a ceremonial gourd until the following year's day of remembrance, where the process is repeated until the ashes are gone.

Quakers

Quakers, also knows as the Religious Society of Friends, have about 400,000 members throughout the world, with higher concentrations in the Americas and Africa. They are known in North America for being strong pacifists and champions of equal rights.

It is that concept of equal rights that make Quaker funerals unique, in that there is no sermon delivered by a man of the cloth. This is because Quakers believe all men are equal in the eyes of God, and therefore, there are no clergymen authorized to hold higher ranking than others.

You may think this leads to very quiet funerals, but that's not necessarily the case. There might be a brief eulogy, and there's always a period called Open Worship, where anyone in attendance is permitted to share their prayers, thoughts, feelings, or even poems to the congregation of mourners. You do not have to be a Quaker to participate in open worship. While not a minister, there may be a Quaker Elder on hand, and when he shakes hands with the deceased's neighbor, the funeral is adjourned.