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Cultural Spotlight: Burundian Funeral Traditions

by | Feb 8, 2019 | Cultural Spotlight, For Families

Hands in water

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 Burundian funeral traditions and is part of a series that highlights how different cultures care for their dead. Other parts of the series are about Trinbagonian funeral traditions and Tajik funeral traditions, among others.

Note, these traditions may vary depending on the individual and their own beliefs.

Religious Beliefs

Christianity is Burundi’s most common religion, with 62.1% of the population identifying as Roman Catholic and 23.9% identifying as Protestant. There also are smaller percentages of people who follow traditional religious beliefs, Islamic beliefs, and other various religions.

Burundian Funeral Rituals and Burial

Traditionally for a Burundian funeral, the burial was close to the deceased’s family’s home but now it’s in cemeteries. After the burial, everyone performs a ritual cleanse with a ceremonial washing of their hands.


After the week-long mourning period, family and friends of the deceased comfort and support each other and share memories of their loved one. About four to six months after the death, they have a ceremony for deciding who inherits the deceased’s belongings and settling any of the deceased’s debts, if needed. They also may have additional ceremonies to please the spirits since they believe they have an impact on the living world.

Fortune Tellers

The Burundian people also talk to fortune tellers since they believe they have a connection to spirits in the afterlife. They talk to them to please their ancestors since they are important to their cultural beliefs.


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