Extraordinary Funeral Traditions from Around the World

Dec 9, 2015 | 1 comment

Modern English funeralRobin Hyde-Chambers, Managing Director with the family-owned funeral services company R. Hyde-Chambers Funeral Directors in Suffolk and Essex in the east of England, is fascinated by the many different funeral traditions you can find around the world. He describes his research that went into creating this infographic.

“I have an interest in all matters relating to funerals and burial traditions, and I thought it would be interesting to explore the many diverse forms of funeral customs from around the world. It wasn’t until I carried out my research that I realized just how absorbing it would be, which is why I decided to create this infographic about the diversity of burial traditions from all over the world.

“Among the extraordinary traditions I encountered while researching the topic was the sky burial, practiced in China, where a corpse is cut into small pieces and place on top of a mountain for birds to prey upon. In locations where this is practiced, there is a belief that, after a person dies, their body is an empty vessel, hence the reasoning for this custom.

“Other remarkable customs include the hanging of coffins from cliffs, another Chinese practice, and the tree-bound ritual where, as the name would suggest, the bodies of the dead are tied to trees as a means of preserving their memory. In Papua New Guinea, a culture of cannibalism exists, although this is believed to be increasingly less common. In ancient India, the Sati tradition stated that a woman whose husband had died would throw herself into an open fire as a sacrifice to honor her spouse.

“To readers from Anglophone nations such as the United Kingdom and United States, these customs really do seem extraordinary. Although any funeral can be conducted in a personalized manner, as per the deceased’s wish, the traditions explored in the infographic differ greatly from what most people in the UK and US would associate with funerals.

“In my home country, funerals are often very sombre occasions where the greatest of respect is shown to the deceased through quiet reflection, a loving eulogy, an emotional church service and a carefully-conducted burial at a graveyard. For many Britons and Americans, the thought of cutting open the bodies of the deceased, or dancing around a body to the accompaniment of rhythmic music, as is the custom with Famadihana in Madagascar, can seem quite disrespectful.

“However, all cultures and religions are different, and everybody has the right to honor their deceased in what they consider to be the most respectful, appropriate manner. It promised to be an interesting, educational research topic and it certainly did not disappoint.”

And if you die in England, but want your body sent somewhere else for burial, R. Hyde-Chambers Funeral Directors offer repatriation services!


A Good Goodbye