7 Bizzare Cremation Rituals From Around The World
Death is inevitable and so cremation rituals have been a part of our life since a long time now. There are various traditions and ceremonies that are held when one’s loved one has departed. Mourning for the departed or making designer coffins for them are among few cremation rites. While burying and burning the corpse is considered as a common convention, there are many cremation rituals that will blow your mind. Many weird and bizarre rituals are still practiced throughout the world. Some of these rituals are very costly and some are just gross. From sky burials to hanging coffins all these rituals have various folklore related to them. Let us look at some of these bizarre cremation rituals.
Jump to a Heading
1. Tau Tau
The people of Toraja society, mainly those of aluk religion have a very elaborate burial ritual. The burial rituals are a very costly affair and sometimes only the richest noblemen are able to complete the cremation rituals. Tau Tau or the effigies of the deceased were put in the cave, looking out over the land.The ritual involves lots of celebration. The people of aluk religion believe that death is not a sudden affair and there is life after death. The ritual celebrations comprise of singing and dancing and feasts. These rituals can last for weeks, months or years depending on the family of the deceased. The celebration ends with the sacrifice of water buffalos, pigs, and chickens. It is considered that buffaloes are used for their journey to Puya or the land of souls, or afterlife.
2. Ma’Nene – Ceremony of Cleaning Corpses
Ma’Nene or the ceremony of cleaning corpse is also a tradition from Toraja. This ceremony takes place every year in the month of August. The dead corpses of the relatives are exhumed from their coffins. These corpses are then cleaned and dressed in new clothes. The damaged coffins are also fixed and then the corpses are walked around the village. It is believed that if the person has died away from home then they need to return to their village. To do so, the corpses are walked back to the place where they died and then walked back to the burial site in a straight line. The corpses are then placed back in their coffins along with their belongings. It is believed that they need these things in their afterlife.
Sati is a very old practice which was popular in the 80’s in India. The ritual dates back to 4th century BC. The ritual involved the burning of the widow on her husband’s pyre. This obsolete ritual was prominent in during the British rule in India. The widows of the deceased men were hurled into the burning pyre to be burned alive. This ritual was carried out to relief the family from the shame in the community. Sati is now a crime in India since it was banned by Queen Victoria in 1861. There are many rural village pockets in India where Sati is still practiced. It is not clear whether the women went willingly of were forced to do so.
4. Sky Burial
The sky burial is famous among the Tibetan monks. This form of cremation involves placing the body of the deceased on the mountain top. The body is exposed to nature, as a result the scavengers and birds feed on it. The dead body is considered as an empty vessel so there is no need to preserve it. The bodies are left for the birds to feed on and for the nature to decompose it. The body is mainly eaten by the vultures until only the skeleton is left. The bones are then ground and given to the crows and hawks. It is considered that this way of cremation results in easy departing of the soul.
5. Ghost Weddings
Ghost Weddings are a part of the Chinese cremation rituals. These weddings of funerals rituals are carried out when the son or daughter die unmarried. In this case, the coffins of the deceased man and women are dug up and the spirit of the women is led to the coffin of the man. The family members of both the families take part in the ceremony. The ceremony is a combination of funeral rituals and wedding rituals. The corpse of the married women is then removed from her original burial site and placed next to her husband. The Chinese believe that the son should be able to continue his family in the next world after his death. The ceremony is also done to prevent the souls of unmarried people from disturbing their family members.
6. Professional Mourners
Chinese believe in elaborate cremation rituals. These rituals often involve huge processions throughout the region before burying their dead. The rich family members of deceased are believed to hire professionals mourners since they are busy in other arrangements. These professional mourners are actors who wail loudly and cry throughout the procession. Lack of tears in a cremation ritual is said to bring disgrace to the family. These professional mourners are mostly young women and they are paid heavily for their act. Throwing themselves on the ground infront of the coffin is considered very important. More important is the act of trying to hold the coffin while the pallbearers take it away.
7. Smoked Corpse
Papua New Guinea Ange tribe practice a very unique and bizarre cremation ritual. The body of the dead men, women, and children are smoked and cured. These cured bodies are then placed between bamboo cages and hung on the cliffs near the village. These corpses are also stained red and this is considered as the highest honor they can bestow on their dead. To prepare the body, cuts are made on the feet and elbow to let the fat run out. Next, bamboo shafts are jabbed into their guts and the drippings are collected. The drippings are smeared on the young relatives skin and hair. It is believed that this transfers the strength of the dead into the living. The leftover is used as cooking oil. These cured bodies are believed to be the guardians of the village.