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Cultural Spotlight: Sudanese Funeral Traditions

by | Sep 21, 2018 | Cultural Spotlight, For Families

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

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

Religious Beliefs

The populations of North Sudan and the Republic of South Sudan have different religious beliefs. 97% of North Sudan’s population identifies as Muslim, while 60.5% of the Republic of South Sudan’s population identifies as Christian. Both Muslim and Christian Sudanese people believe in the afterlife, but they have their own views.

Christian Sudanese Funeral Traditions

Traditionally, Christian Sudanese families washed the deceased and wrapped their body in a woven grass mat or cow skin. Then, the burial was on their family’s land.

Today for a Christian Sudanese funeral, everyone besides the children views the body. Most people choose burial in cemeteries, although cremation is allowed but not as common. After the funeral and burial, the deceased’s family has an at-home mourning period for 40 days.

Muslim Sudanese Funeral Traditions

After someone dies, Muslim Sudanese males wash the body of a deceased male, and females wash the body of a deceased female. They wash the body at the mosque for the cleaning and blessing ritual. The Imam — mosque worship leader — blesses the body and performs the service. Before the burial, family and friends can pay their respects to the deceased.

Muslims only practice burial; cremation isn’t allowed. Some Muslims believe in burying the deceased within 24 hours of the death. At the burial, the deceased’s family throws dirt onto the casket.

The standard mourning period is three to seven days. Women wear black during this time and sometimes even for several months after the funeral service. Widows may choose to wear black for the rest of their life.


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