11 fascinating funeral traditions from around the globe
Originally posted on TED Blog:
The funerals I’ve attended have all been very much the same. Relatives and friends arrive in all black and take seats in the church or synagogue pews for a somber ceremony where prayers are said, memories are shared and tears are shed. The attendees walk slowly out to their cars and form a single file line a behind the hearse, arriving at the graveyard where they place roses on the casket just before it’s lowered into the ground. Then, they proceed to the immediate family’s home, where the doorbell rings with a steady stream of loved ones — casserole dishes in hand — since, in the days ahead, people often forget to eat.
[ted_talkteaser id=1832]In today’s talk, cultural anthropologist Kelli Swazey shares with us a different approach to memorializing the dead. In Tana Toraja in eastern Indonesia, funerals are raucous affairs involving the whole village that can last anywhere from days to weeks. Families save up for long periods of time to raise the resources for a lavish funeral, where sacrificial water buffalo will carry the deceased’s soul to the afterlife. Until that moment — which can take place years after physical death — the dead relative is referred to simply as a “person who is sick,” or even one “who is asleep.” They are laid down special rooms in the family home, where they are symbolically fed, cared for and taken out — very much a part of their relative’s lives.