Every culture has their own unique funeral rituals, but they still may have some traditions in common, like performing funeral dances.
Funeral dances have their own spiritual meaning behind them, but they all bring people together to grieve by celebrating the life of the deceased through performing a meaningful dance in their honor. Here is a list of some different funeral dances performed throughout the world, some of which are still in practice today.
The Dinki-Mini Jamaican dance has an African origin and the name originates from the Congolese word “nidingi” that means funeral song. It’s the first dance performed at the Nine-Night celebration, the ninth night preceding the funeral service. The dance celebrates the creation of life and invites the spirits, also known as duppies, of the deceased’s ancestors to join in the celebration.
Even though it’s a funeral song, the music is lively so it may help in comforting the deceased’s loved ones. The dance, performed by both men and women, focuses on the pelvic region, which represents that they’re stronger than death and can reproduce. The instruments played during this dance are shakas, katta sticks, condensed milk tins, graters, cylinder drums called tamboos, and bentas, which are stringed instruments made with bamboo and a gourd resonator.
The Haka dance is from the Maori people of New Zealand. It was traditionally a war dance performed by warriors to show their power and strength and intimidate others. It’s also performed at special occasions, such as welcoming ceremonies for important guests and funerals. The dance involves energetic movements, stamping feet, and rhythmic yelling. Originally just the men danced, but now women and children may perform it as well.
Many New Zealand sports teams perform this dance before their international matches. This tradition started with the 1888-89 New Zealand Native rugby union team and they were also the first team to wear all black. The New Zealand national rugby union team, also know as the All Blacks, has continued the tradition since 1905.
When New Zealand rugby union player Jonah Lomu died in November 2015 from a heart attack related to nephrotic syndrome, a kidney disease, a traditional haka dance was performed at Lomu’s funeral service. Lomu retired from playing professional rugby in 2007, but was considered “the first true global superstar of rugby union.”
Dodi or Mutu Dance
The Kenga people of central Sudan perform the Dodi or Mutu mourning dances on the day of the burial. Both men and women participate in the dance, which involves quick, energetic movements and stamping feet. Instruments played include flutes, rattles, and drums.