Unique Memorials from Around the World

By: Adam Ciha
Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Every culture has their own unique way in which they honor their loved ones at the end of a life. There are many different traditions and beliefs that are tied in to perform a funeral and memorial service. Although, they may seem very different they are all planned as a way to pay respects to a loved one, create a safe passage and share community support and condolences as we say goodbye.

Here is a couple of examples of how memorial services and funerals are done across the globe:

India: In India, it is custom to show gratitude for the deceased and life they lived. They honor their loved ones with love and celebration to ensure the safe passage from this world to the next. When someone dies in India, the family brings the body to India’s famous 24-hour cremation Ghats that are down the Ganges River in the ancient city of Varanasi. The believe that if the ashes of their loved one are put into the river after cremation the deceased will go to heaven rather than be reincarnated.

Tibet: In Tibet, Tibetan Buddhists perform many tasks to mark each phase of the deceased’s passing from this world to the otherworld. It can take as long as up to one year for these detailed ceremonies to commence and there are some instances where family members will not perform daily tasks such as washing their hair or face or participate in any celebrating of any sorts. The deceased’s body is not buried for up to four days after they have died. Buddhist believe that the soul is still in the body, as they are not aware they have died yet. In this time the body is shrouded in white, while a lama chants over them and if the family has the means to do so they are surrounded by many light lamps. The family of the deceased mourns the body for 45 days and the celebration of life takes place after one year where friends and family come together to mark the passing.

Being aware of different cultures and their traditions for a memorial service can bring inspiration to families planning a service for a loved one. It allows us to appreciate the different ways of saying goodbye in the mourning of a loved one. Understanding who and why people celebrate the life of a loved one can open your mind to new horizons and in some cases incorporate aspects that resonate with you and your family.

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