Death American Style

American DeathWhile other cultures celebrate death, Americans try to ignore the inevitable – hoping that a cure will be discovered in the future, so they will be able to escape unscathed. If we do believe we will die, many of us predict, or at least hope, that we will be too old and feeble to know the difference. In any given case, American Death is not optional — until proven otherwise. Even so, must of us do not like to talk about it, fearing the mere utterance of related words will hasten our demise. Continue reading Death American Style

Death Festivals Part 2

Death Festivals GlendoraLast week, we started a two-part series about death festivals around the world – the ways cultures acknowledge, honor and celebrate their dead. While most Americans avoid even uttering the term, afraid they will jinx themselves and end up in an early grave, other cultures dedicate days, weeks and even months to death. Some even invite ghosts to come back to hang. Our first post covered Qingming Festival (Festival of Shang Fen or Tomb-Sweeping Day), Famadihana (Turning of the Bones’ Festival), Hungry Ghost Festival, Obon, and All Souls & All Saints Day. To conclude, this week, we will cover: Gaijatra, Lemuralia, Chuseok, Day of the Dead, and Pitru Paksha.

5 More Death FestivalsCows Nepal Death Festival

  1. Gaijatra

AKA the Festival of the Cows, Gaijatra marks an eight-day festival every August and September in Nepal. A procession of cows marches through the center of town, led by family members who have lost a loved one within the last year. If a cow cannot be found, a boy dressed as a cow walks in its place. Considered holy in Hinduism, cows usher the recently deceased to the afterlife. Gaijatra is a light-hearted celebration of death. The annual event is meant to help people accept death.

  1. Lemuralia

Death festival Hand washObserved in ancient Rome, this death festival banished malevolent ancestral spirits. To cleanse the house, the head of the household wakes at midnight to wash his hands three times. Then, while walking barefoot throughout the house, he throws black beans over his shoulder nine times, while chanting, “haec ego mitto; his redimo meque meosque fabis.” 

This translates to, “I send these; with these beans, I redeem me and mine.” Romulus started the ritual to appease the spirit of his twin brother Remus, whom he had killed for jumping over a wall. Although Romans no longer observe this festival, we thought it deserved a mention, if only for the beans.

  1. ChuseokHarvest Death Festival

A major festival and three-day holiday in South Korea, Chuseok thanks dead ancestors for abundant harvests. During the holiday, Koreans travel to their ancestral homes to perform early-morning rituals. These include the preparation of a special rice cake called a Songpyeon, left out for (and presumably eaten by) dead ancestors. The rest of the day includes feasts, memorial services and visits to clean the tombs of dead family members.

  1. Day of the Dead Man

Coco Movie Death FestivalEl Dia de Muertos, celebrated in Mexico and portrayed in the immensely popular animated film, Coco, this holiday is observed mostly in the Central and South regions, and in certain areas of the United States. It is acknowledged internationally by many other cultures. The multi-day holiday focuses on gatherings of family and friends to pray for and remember friends and family members who have died, and help support their spiritual journeys. Associated traditions include building private altars called ofrendas, honoring the deceased using calaverasAztec marigolds, and the favorite foods and beverages of the departed. Celebrants also visit graves and leave gifts graveside.

  1. Pitru Paksha (Fortnight of the Ancestors)Hindu Death Festival

Another Hindu tradition, Pitru Paksha is a 15-day stretch during Ashwin to remember ancestors through food offerings. In Hindu mythology, the dead warrior Karna reached heaven and discovered nothing to eat but gold. He settled for a gold-exclusive diet because he didn’t offer food during his lifetime. Eventually, he returns to earth for 15 days to make amends by offering food and water.

About Foothill Funeral & Cremation Services

Funeral Death FestivalWhatever you do to mark your loved ones’ deaths, we would love to help during your time of need. We love helping folks take care of the details so they can move forward with their lives. Give us a call (626) 335-0615 or drop by our Glendora showroom. In Covina, our relationship with Sacred Heart Chapel is the perfect place for mourners to host funerals and memorial services in a grandiose yet intimate setting. We proudly serve the San Gabriel Valley, San Fernando Valley, Los Angeles Basin, Orange County and the Inland Empire. Working in the mortuary industry since 1996, we have worked hard to build a reputation of quality, sincerity and trust. Please allow us to help you at your time of need or in the future. Call today (626) 335-0615 or drop by our showroom.