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Cultural Spotlight: Turkmen Funeral Traditions

by | Jan 4, 2019 | Cultural Spotlight, For Families

Turkmenistan Gurbanguly Hajji Mosque

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

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

Religious and Death Beliefs

Most Turkmen people identify as Muslim, with almost 90% of the Turkmenistan population recognizing Islam as their religion. For this reason, we’ll focus on Muslim Turkmen funeral traditions.

When it comes to death, they use the phrase “to pass on” rather than “to die.” Muslims believe that when someone passes on, it’s the end of their physical life on Earth, but their soul lives. On Judgement Day, it’s determined whether the soul goes to paradise or hell.

Turkmen Funeral and Burial Customs

For a Muslim Turkmen funeral service, they read from the Quran, Islam’s central religious text. The service may take place at the gravesite if there isn’t time for a service beforehand.

Burial traditions are according to Islam rituals. They bury the deceased within 24 hours, if possible, and bury the body facing Mecca. They also don’t practice embalming or cremation.

Traditionally, they buried the deceased in cemeteries built around the tomb of an Islamic saint, since they’re seen as afterlife guides.

Mourning Period

After the funeral, the mourning period lasts three days or longer. When grieving, it’s alright to openly cry and express your feelings.

There also are memorial feasts on the seventh and 40th day after the death, as well as on the one-year anniversary of the death.


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