Funeral Customs Around the World

Funeral Customs Around the World Kazakhstan

Last Updated: 3rd February 2022

In Kazakhstan, funerals are followed using a combination of traditional and Islamic beliefs.

When a loved one dies, most of the deceased’s relatives and the wider community come together to take part in the funeral.

The deceased’s body is, in accordance with customs of Muslim society, washed and wrapped in white cloth.  This process takes place in a specific yurt that has been built specifically for the occasion. 

Until burial, the body of the deceased is never left alone.

The funeral procession takes place, with the deceased being brought to the cemetery on a stretcher for this particular use and the funeral is conducted a ‘mullah’ whilst wailing women are traditionally heard during the funeral. 

Prayers are said and the deceased’s body is laid to rest in the ground.

At the yurt, where the deceased’s body rests before burial, a mourning flag is mounted with the colour of the flag determining the deceased’s age (red for a young person, black for middle aged or white if elderly).

The deceased’s clothing is distributed amongst the sider family and everyone is served food and drink.

The Kazakhs’ mourning period lasts for a year and the spear, with the coloured mourning flag remaining.

Special banquets take place on the third, seventh and fortieth days after the deceased’s funeral where Muslim prayers are said with lamb and horse being the main fare on the menu.

A large feast takes place one year after the funeral of the deceased at which a large number of people associated to the deceased attend, including from the tribe in which they were a member of.

It is tradition in Kazakh society that, on the one year anniversary of their death, the deceased’s favourite horse’s main and tail are shaved and slaughtered. 

Other animals are slaughtered for the large feast that takes place, at which hundreds of people attend and take part by watching horse races that lead to big prizes being won.

Kazakhs’ graves are often marked with dome shaped monuments that are made out of brick, clay, or stones, with a pole attached to them that have wrapped up rice attached. 

The graves are encircled by stone fences and customary sacrificial rituals take place with a representation of nine being present (symbolic of prosperity and luck) made at the gravesides.

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