Friday, March 31, 2017

Funeral Practices Around the World

What do funeral practices around the world tell us about religion and culture?

Lavish cremation ceremonies characterize funerals in Bali, where people believe that cremation releases the soul so it can be reincarnated.

In Madagascar, Malagasy people exhume family members and dance with the bodies as a band plays.
In an interesting review of these practices, Kate Torgovnick May, writing for TED, reviews the different funeral practices and notes that they are "hugely varied" and "might strike someone outside the culture as odd."

And Anthropologist Kelli Swazey, in the fascinating Ted Talk below, zooms in on funeral practices in Tana Toraja in Indonesia, where dead relatives play an important role long after they actually die.

Students might read the story, watch the TED Talk, and chart the different practices. They could then try to find connections between the funeral practices and the religious beliefs.

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