Unique Memorials From Around the World
Different cultures have many different ways of preparing and honouring their loved ones after they pass. Many are based in long-standing traditions that can be followed back centuries. Each pays their respects in different ways. Being aware of these traditions can provide incredible inspiration when planning and personalizing a funeral service for your loved ones.
The Islamic faith maintains strict guidelines for proper burial and the practices in Iran follow this closely. Unlike many other cultures, Iranians believe that burials should take place within a day of a loved one's passing. Wrapped in a shroud and facing Mecca, the body is prayed over by friends and family. Before this, it is important to wash loved ones nine times before being ready. The mourning process is extended in this case, with certain days having added relevance. After forty days the grave site is officially adorned with a gravestone and those in mourning are permitted to wear colours once again. This process continues for one full year, after which the initial mourning period officially comes to an end.
In Cambodia, funeral preparations are taken bery seriously and are often begun before death. When death seems imminent, those passing are carefully prepared for the occassion. They are dressed in all white and have their heads shaved. Much like Western religious traditions, a Buddhist monk is usually present in order to help guide the soul on its journey. Upon passing, loved ones are carefully prepared at home by the remaining family for the next three days. They are cleaned and cared for while family and friends pray over them. Cremation follows, with ashes presented to a temple in order for the monks present to properly guide the spirit through to the afterlife.
Cremation is a cornerstone of Indian culture with regard to much of the country's inhabitants. Thre are many different groups with differing beliefs in India, but all believe in properly honouring their dead and helping to ease their transition into the afterlife. Pilgrims to the city of Varanasi, along the Ganges River, do so to take part in an ancient tradition with regard to their loved ones passing. After cremation in the ceremonial Ghats, ashes are scattered along the river. The belief is that if they are cremated and left to follow the river downstream their soul, instead of being reincarnated, will ascend to heaven.
Tibet's culture and religion are focused on Buddhism, which involves a long and somewhat drawn out mourning period. A Tibetan funeral can sometimes take months to perform, with some lasting up to a full year. The deceased is placed beneath a white shroud while a monk or lama chants prayers and incantations over them. Lamps are common, with the number of accompanying lights being based on the family's means. More lights are considered to be better. Usually this mourning period lasts around 45 days, with the body not being buried for up to 4 days. The remainder of the time is spent continuing to mourn. After this initial period, family and friends go back to their daily lives. After one year has passed, they all congregate again to pay their final respects, much like during a wake or celebration of life.
These traditions can help you decide exactly how you wish to honour your loved ones. While it is never easy, the decision of how best to pay respects is an important one. Many cultures believe it is the duty of the living to assist in the transition to the afterlife. Paying proper respects can differ somewhat from culture to culture, but the underlying aspects are always based around respect and remembrance. Your choice is ultimately a personal one, but we do hope that these examples will help you with your decision.