The traditional Christian funeral is the one we see often on movie and TV. However, that is just one way of burying a dead body. You will be surprised by some of the death rituals around the world. There are some weird, some spooky, and some downright entertaining rituals. With that in mind, let’s take a look.
In many African cultures, dead ancestors are treated with fear. Therefore, the funeral ritual has to demonstrate your respect to the dead. With a fusion of traditional and modern aspects, nowadays, we have a ritual that is a mix, and not so spooky.
The windows of the house in which the death has occurred are smeared with ash, and the beds are removed from the room so mourners can enter. In some cases, a ritual sacrifice of an animal may take place. After the funeral, everybody has to wash off the dust and dirt from the graveyard before they enter the house. It is believed that is to wash off bad luck.
Mongolia and Tibet are famous for the “sky burial”. Literally, birds eat your body. The ritual involves leaving the body of a deceased on a high unprotected place. The body is exposed to the elements and devoured by wildlife.
In South Korea, people like to preserve the remains of a dead person. They compress the remains of the body into a gem-like beads. The beads come in different colors, and they are displayed at the home of the deceased.
Ghana is a rather poor country in Africa. But there are people that can afford something more luxurious and weird for their funeral. Some people like to be buried in something that represents their life. Therefore, they have coffins shapes like planes for pilots, fish for fishermen, and of course, a Mercedes-Benz car for a businessman.
This ritual has been recently banned in India, but it is still talked. It is a practice in which the widowed women are immolated on their husband’s funeral pyre. The custom is a voluntary act, but there were cases where women had to be dragged against their will to the fire. Some believe that the purpose of the ritual is to prevent wives from killing wealthy husbands and marrying their real lovers. A more romantic explanation is that the ritual is a way for the husband and wife to enter the afterlife together so that they could thwart opportunistic female angels.
In West Papua, New Guinea, people actually show how much they mourn the dead of a person. As if the death was not traumatic enough. Dani people have to cut off their own fingers, and that applies to women and children related to the deceased. The practice has two purposes. One to drive away the spirits. The second is to provide a physical pain as an expression of sorrow and suffering. Fingers are tied tightly with string and then cut off with an axe. The leftovers are dried and burned to ashes or stored in a special place. The ritual is now banned, but still talked about.
As you might imagine, the ritual is impacted by the Islamic faith. There are strict prescriptions for the correct burial and mourning. One of them is that the burial needs to take place within 24 hours of death.
To prepare the body for burial, the body is washed nine times, and then wrapped in a white shroud and tied with cords.
The mourning is split into significant days, third, seventh, fortieth, and one year afterwards.
Among all weird death rituals, we have one that is quite entertaining. The culture in New Orleans has shaped and influenced burials as well. The funeral procession is led by a big horn band, playing sad tunes at first, and then following with upbeat jazz and blues for dancing.
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