As our team was planning for the new year and the new decade the conversation of unique burial and memorial options came up. As a cemetery located in Surrey, BC, that offers green burial we have had the pleasure of being a part of end of life traditions from various backgrounds and faiths. This made us curious about what other traditions from all around the world there are to discover. Here are some amazing burial, memorial, and celebration traditions that we found.
The New Orleans jazz funeral.
A fusion of West African, French and African-American traditions creates a unique mix of joy and grief as mourners are led by a marching band. The music starts out sorrowful as the crowd commences through the streets to the cemetery. Once the body is buried the music takes a quick upturn into joyous dance music. The burial ceremony is often followed by an evening of food, music, and dancing to celebrate the loved one that has passed.
The practice of green funerals is starting to grow all over the world. It is becoming recognized as a socially and environmentally responsible decision across generations.
A green burial means skipping the embalming process and laying the loved one to rest in a compostable casket or burial shroud that naturally returns the body to the earth. This type of burial saves multiple chemicals from entering the earth and provides the option for burial plots to be used for generations. Heritage Gardens is one of only a few cemeteries that offers green burial in British Columbia, we are happy to answer any questions you have about this environmentally friendly option that we offer at our Surrey cemetery.
Ghana fantasy coffins
In Ghana, people aspire to be buried in coffins that represent their work or something that they loved in life. This could be anything from coffins shaped like a favourite car, an animal they loved, or anything that represented something that the person that passed admired. The tradition of fantasy coffins has its roots in the traditional culture of the people known as the Ga community. Some historians have suggested that the coffins were inspired by the elaborate palanquins that Ga chiefs were carried on in life, and often buried with. These palanquins would be lavishly carved and decorated with symbolic animals.
Torajan tradition from Indonesia
A Torajan tradition from Indonesia is the burial practice of placing coffins in trees or on cliff faces to naturally return the bodies to the earth in a way the represents their beliefs of Mother Earth. The belief is that the earth is seen as the mother of all life, and to bury the dead within the soil directly would be to defile it. Depending on the age of the loved on that has passed away they may be placed in a hollowed-out tree. It is believed that over time as the tree heals, it absorbs the remains within it and is part of healing and protecting the soul. We offer many green burial and traditional burial options at our Surrey cemetery but we are not able to offer this form of tree burial. We do offer a memorial tree burial though!
Île Sainte-Marie, Pirate Cemetery
Few pirates have traditional resting places in the earth, many were buried at sea. This pirate cemetery is one of the very few that can be found in the world. Since pirates lived most of their lives travelling from place to place and participated in criminal activities it was unusual for them to have a home town that would accept them into their cemeteries. Île Saint-Marie, a beautiful and abundant island off the east coast of Madagascar, was a popular location for pirates to stop between trips due to its abundant fruit and convenient geographical location. This is how it became a choice for burial for many of these buccaneers.
Feng Shui burials in China
In China, Feng Shui is not just for the home you live in while alive, but for your burial home, too. It is called yin feng shui as opposed to yang feng shui, which is for your lived-in home. Yin Feng Shui has specific requirements such as it must face either the west or east, which way specifically is decided dependant on the birth date of the deceased. It must not be too windy, it mustn’t face a straight road or temple, and it must take into account the configuration of the celestial animals of feng shui.
Jamaican Tradition of celebration.
In the Jamaican tradition, It is believed that it takes nine days for the soul to finally rest after death. Death is a reason not to mourn a loss but to celebrate a life well-lived. On the ninth night, friends and family will gather and bring food and drink and celebrate the life of their loved one and give their soul a good send-off. A complete meal is laid out on a table but no one is allowed to eat from it until after midnight as the food is for the departed soul, and it is believed that at the stroke of midnight it will have finally left the mortal realm. This Jamaican tradition celebrates that their loved one is laid to rest and there is no more suffering.
We hoped you enjoyed learning about these traditions as much as we did. Although we cannot offer all of these options, Heritage Gardens works to accommodate as many burial, memorial, and celebration requests as possible. If you would like assistance in finding unique ways to honour your loved one or create a plan for yourself we would love to help you. Please contact us for more information.