One thing that all people have in common is that we all must eventually die. The difference comes in the way that we honor those who have departed this life. As you may have guessed, different cultures view death and honor the deceased in vastly different ways. Some cultures have ceremonies that are quite simple while others have ceremonies that are shrouded in antiquity. Let us take a brief tour around the world to learn about the fascinating ways in which people honor the deceased.
- Egypt: The ancient Egyptians famously honored the dead by buying them with their worldly possessions. They believed in an afterlife and that the departed would need these items there. Early pharaohs were even buried with their servants while their servants were still alive!
- Ghana: This African country treats funerals as a celebration of the deceased person’s life. These ceremonies would indeed look strange to Westerners as they are conducted with a mood of happiness and joy. Even the coffins containing the deceased are ornately decorated.
- Malaysia: The Mah Meri people of this country celebrate the life of the deceased as well at their Ari Muyang festival. Here they wear elaborate costumes, offer prayers and blessings to their ancestors and ask them for future prosperity in their own lives.
- India: The dead are honored during the month of Ashwin, Pitru Paksha by Hindus. This 15 day celebration is characterized by food offerings to the departed as well as by elaborate rituals that are meant to help the departed attain final peace.
- Cambodia – The Khmer of this Southeast Asian country also gather together and place food offerings in pagodas. They fill these temples with the intention of easing the deceased person’s suffering.
- Ukraine: Here feasts are organized to honor the dead on the 3rd, 9th and 40th days after death. This is done on the six-month and one year anniversary as well. During these ceremonies, a banquet is arranged and mourners are required to avoid drinking water in the presence of the deceased person’s body.
These are just a few ways that the deceased are honored in other cultures and throughout time. In our own culture the deceased can be remembered and honored with a memorial tree gift phase one. Trees are a symbol of permanence and stability. Engraved memorial plaques phase one are an excellent way to attach to them thoughts about the departed. So, while we may honor and celebrate the deceased in different ways around the world, the desire to show the departed our respect is universal.