Ash-Scattering Ceremonies

“I think a lot of Hawaiians would rather be cremated than buried…Yeah. People would rather have their ashes scattered into the ocean. I think it’s a beautiful ceremony. I want to have my ashes scattered into the ocean. I think it’s the idea of being put back in nature. I guess that’s why people like it?…Anyway, I haven’t been to many, but I know that the main family members are the ones who cry the most. Like most funerals, they say a respectful prayer and scatter the ashes into the ocean. It’s just not really a solemn affair. More like just a goodbye.”

Context/Analysis: This ceremony is significant to the informant because it is part of her national identity. She would like to be cremated and scattered into the ocean just like her past family members. Most of her family members have been through the same ceremony, including her grandfather. She first learned of the ritual at her grandfather’s ash-scattering ceremony when she was younger.

It is compelling that Ash-Scattering ceremonies are not a sad affair. Most western burial traditions are incredibly sad and everyone wears black. People at ash scatterings don’t typically wear black. IN fact, it is a custom to just wear formal Hawaiian floral wear. Ultimately, it is a compelling tradition because it suggests that this tradition is more of a celebration of the life instead of a point of termination for the person.