How Does an Asian Funeral Differ from the Western Variety?
Death is undoubtedly a sombre occasion that can be quite challenging to navigate, especially considering how different cultures handle it. So, what are the differences between Asian and Western funerals, including their rituals and beliefs, and what should you think about if you need to plan one?
In Asian culture, funerals are solemn and elaborate rites involving the entire community. In China, for instance, a funeral service must take place on a perfectly aligned date, determined by the deceased's birth date. Buddhists focus on the last rites and may burn incense or light candles to guide the spirit's journey. In comparison, Western funerals are more solemn, with religious or non-religious services held in a church, funeral home, or other settings. There is less collective effort involved, with the emphasis placed on consoling the deceased's family.
In Western countries, the typical funeral dress code involves black, sober-coloured clothing. This outfit reflects the solemnity of the occasion and respect for the deceased. However, in Asian countries, the colour white is a traditional mourning colour, with some opting for black or yellowish clothing. In Japan, white kimonos are often worn, and female guests wear black kimonos or subdued clothing.
Cremation is a common practice in both Asian and Western cultures, with the latter having embraced it more recently. However, there are notable differences in how cremations are carried out. In many Asian countries, burial ceremonies are still the norm. However, cremation has been increasingly popular.
Asian funeral customs are often characterised by loud wailing as mourners express their grief, and this behaviour will often be displayed publicly. It is a way for mourners to demonstrate the extent of their grief and honour the deceased. In contrast, Western funerals tend to be quieter, with attendees encouraged to pay their respects in a more solemn and reserved fashion.
What to Take Away
There are striking differences between Asian and Western funerals, including their rituals, dress codes, funeral ceremonies and behaviours. However, the bottom line is that both cultural practices evolved to honour and commemorate the deceased's life and offer comfort to the bereaved. So, if you need to plan an Asian funeral, get in touch with a funeral director who specialises in this area, and they will help you with all of the detail.
For more information on Asian funerals, contact a professional or a funeral home near you.