Rituals of the People.

Funerals mark the passing of a person, but the way religions perform these ceremonies vary. Whether they consist of family and friends coming to say there farewells in a temple or a tribe gathering on a grassy terrain,religions always have a way of creating a ritual to fit their religion However, instilled in all of these religions is permanent tradition. This brochure will explain the ritual that are performed at a funeral in the Dagra tribe in Burkina Faso and the Japanese Buddhist.

Funeral Rituals practiced by the Dagara tribe in Burkina Faso

The author of Rituals : Malidoma Somé

In the book Rituals by Malidoma Somé, he explains a funeral ritual that is only practice when it is the homoside of an unsatisfied witch. It begains with his family in "zanuteg" (the land of sleep/sleeping) on a rainy night inside their compound. While he lays restless, he sees a glowing goat sniffing his sister's head which ensued his scream. HIs loud squeal awoke his father, which then averted their attention to the "luminescent goat." Then his father screamed "What is that," that sent the goat running out of his fathers compound. Somé's father called his grandfather, shortly after being called over he spotted a " thin line of coagulated blood running from the bed where we (father,sister,step-brother) had slept through the whole bedroom, into the room,up the wooden downspout,onto the roof of my father's suite into the openness outside." The next morning his brother began to feel sick, and later that day begin to bleed from his nose and his mouth, "he died at sunset." On the day of the funeral the "ceremonial space was checked with different talismanic object."Young Somé did not understand why they were doing that because that was not an "ordinary funeral ritual." In the Dagara tribe there are "principle participants... paint their bald heads with white paint." These participants are family, mother, father, sister(s),brother(s), aunts(s),(uncle(s), and cousins(s).. His step brother passed because the work of a witch, "this particular witch was able to enter our house because my father had an outstanding debt to the Earth Shrine for nearly ten years. the debt was have to been paid through a ritual."" The delsy for what he owed had resulted in the weakening of the protective family shield."

The people of the Dagra tribe revolve around their rituals, they believe that "if you are born by ritual you must die by ritual", this why there funeral ceremonies must cover all aspects of their religion." When there is a death in the tribe it is not considered "natural" because the Dagara people "see themselves as a projection of the spirit world, it is composed of the world of ancestors, he place where non-human entities in charge of natural dwell." There is no ceremony, but there is a ritual to "elevate the deceased to the sphere of the ancestors." "Your life is committed to rituals. We often say in my tradition that you're either doing a ritual, thinking about getting into one, are in the middle of one, or just finished one. The purpose of ritual is to connect us to our own essence, to help us tune into collective spirits or to mend whatever is broken, whatever wired have been pulled out of one's life, so we can start anew. Ritual is to the soul what food if to the physical body."

compounds of the Dagara people in Barkin Faso, coated with mud and cow dung

Rituals performed by Buddhist

A Lama (Monk) who will perform the funeral rituals of the Japanese Buddhist

Buddhist funeral rituals vary widely from region to region, so a general description is not suitable. Unlike the Dagara tribe in Burkina faso, Japense BUddhist began there rituals with the cleaning of the bod (this is done by the hospital officials), then stuffed with gauze or cotton.Men are dressed in suits and women are dressed in kimonos, after they are dressed the cosmetic specialist adorns their face and apply make up to other areas of the body where make up is needed. Once a the person dies the eldest son is approached so that he can make formal arrangements for the ceremony.The body is then placed on dry ice until they day of the funeral, then he/she will be moved into the casket. On the day of the funeral the deceased is brought into temple "Burnable items," that the the deceased enjoy in their life, can be put into the casket. During the ceremony the priest reads from the sutra, halfway through the reading the priest signals to began the offering of incense." Each family member offers incense in hierarchical order, after which the visitors take turns in offering incense." Once the priest is finished reading from the sutra the people bow bow as he he exits the room. Next a representative of the family, normally the eldest son, thanks everyone for attending the ceremony. Finally the everyone stands at attention so the pallbearers carry the casket out to the hearse. The hearse is " elaborately carved to look like the temple on wheels." The hearse then leads the funeral procession to the crematorium.

Illistration of Buddhist cremation ceremony

When comparing Buddhist funeral rituals to funeral Rituals practiced by the Dagara tribe the difference is immense.However, the similarity these two religions have is the role tradition plays in their rituals. The above rituals have been practiced for many of years, only to be modified to accordingly. Religions thrive on their traditional rituals, some more abiding than others, but all of them are particular when it comes to rituals.


Hammond, Billy. Japanese Buddhist Funeral Customs . http://tanutech.com/japan/jfunerals.html (accessed November 18, 2012).

Japanese funeral . August 7, 2012. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Japanese_funeral (accessed November 18, 2012).

Somé, Sobonfu. The Seen and the Unseen: Spirituality among the Dagara people. Feurary 9, 2012. http://www.culturalsurvival.org/publications/cultural-survival-quarterly/burkina-faso/seen-and-unseen-spirituality-among-dagara-peop (accessed November 18, 2012).

Kuba, Richard. Burkina Faso. http://www.everyculture.com/Bo-Co/Burkina-Faso.html