Here in America and in most of Canada, we have funeral traditions that have stood the test of time for decades, even centuries.
But our traditions are vastly different from those in other countries and cultures.
This article looks at Uzbek funeral traditions and is part of a series that highlights how different cultures care for their dead. Other parts of the series are about Azerbaijani funeral traditions and Moroccan funeral traditions, among others.
Note, these traditions may vary depending on the individual and their own beliefs.
Uzbek Religious Beliefs
Almost 90% of Uzbekistan’s population identifies as Muslim. Sunni Muslims are more common than Shia Muslims in Uzbekistan. They believe that on Judgment Day, it’s determined whether the soul goes to paradise or hell.
Preparation of the Body
When someone dies, their family closes their eyes and lays their feet together. If the deceased is male, a male family member washes the body. While if the deceased is female, a female family member does the washing ritual. Afterward, they wrap the body in a white shroud for the burial.
Uzbek Funeral Customs and Burial
An Uzbek funeral is a rather large and sad event. Mourners all participate in a funeral procession to the burial location. If the procession is on foot, strangers who come across it may follow along for at least seven steps to show their respect.
If possible, they bury the deceased within 24 hours of the death. Many people choose above-ground tomb burials. Before burying the deceased, they read from the Quran — Islam’s central religious text.
They serve morning plov — a pilaf dish made of carrots, rice, meat, and other ingredients. The deceased’s family or other funeral guests may make this dish. They also serve other food such as dried fruit, naan, and tea.
Morning plov is a common dish at other significant events, including weddings. However, the traditions are slightly different when it’s made for a funeral. During the meal, everyone prays together for the deceased’s soul, and there’s no music playing.
There is a 40-day mourning period after someone passes away. On the 7th, 20th, and 40th days after the death, their family and friends gather to honor the deceased. They also hold a celebration on the one-year anniversary of their loved one’s death and make morning plov.