Different Ways People Around the World Honor the Dead – Insights for IT Professionals

Different Ways People Around the World Honor the Dead

Death is universal but different cultures around the world honor the dead in various ways. When a loved one dies, cultural rituals will often determine how a family lays the loved one to rest.

Mourning practices and events honor the lives of the deceased. In many countries, there are special events that take place every year to pay respect to the dead. All of these rituals, events and practices help people to remember the dead, get comfort and come to terms with grief and loss.  

America – headstones and urns

In Western cultures, like the U.S., families either choose interment in a grave or cremation for the deceased. They often memorialize their loved ones by choosing a beautiful headstone for the grave or keeping the cremation ashes in a special urn. They may go online and choose headstones and cremation urns by Memorials.com because this offers them privacy and they can select from many different ones to find those that suit their preference.

Mexico – “Day of the Dead” 

“Día de Los Muertos” in Mexico is probably one of the most famous celebrations of the dead. It lasts about three days, beginning of October 31. The celebrations are nationwide and include parades with people wearing skull face paint, singing and dancing. An essential part is to go to the graveyard to pay a visit to the graves of loved ones. At the graves, people will clean, weed, and decorate, bringing gifts like food, candies and flowers. 

Madagascar – “dancing with the dead”

A death ritual in Madagascar occurs every five to seven years after a loved one is buried. The Malagasy people exhume the loved one so the family can strip off the burial clothing and wrap them in fresh shrouds. The practice is known as “dancing with the dead.” The family members dance near the tomb while music plays. After the ceremony takes place, the crypt is sealed for another five to seven years. The ritual is believed to push the spirit of the person towards the afterlife. 

Tibet – sky burials 

Many Buddhists in Tibet choose a sky burial. They prefer this to interment in the ground. The body is left outside, often on top of a hill, where birds of prey will consume it. In this way, it organically becomes a part of nature. 

India – a Parade 

A tradition in Varanasi, India, is to parade the dead loved one through the streets. The body is dressed in colors that reflect the deceased’s virtues like knowledge or purity. It is sprinkled with water from the Ganges to encourage the soul to reach salvation and end the cycle of reincarnation. The body is then cremated on the cremation grounds of the town. 

Ireland – a wake

In Ireland, people hold a wake to celebrate the life of the deceased and food and drink are liberally consumed. People keep their windows open for two hours after a loved one has passed because they believe the soul needs a way out. After two hours, they close the windows again to prevent the soul from returning. All clocks are stopped at the time of death, and mirrors are covered so the spirit of the deceased isn’t trapped inside. 

South Korea – “Chuseok”

Koreans have their Chuseok festivities to remember their ancestors. Food is a key component of this festival, with many classic Korean dishes on the menu. Families wake up early and prepare a table for their ancestors. They bow twice towards the table and wait for the ancestors to receive their gifts. After this ritual, they will eat, and a visit to the tombs of ancestors is also part of the festivities. 

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