Strange Funeral Traditions From Around The Globe

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Standard burials are nothing compared to these 10 funeral rituals from around the world, but it'd be pretty cool to go out like a Viking, don't you think? ( photo)
Standard burials are nothing compared to these 10 funeral rituals from around the world, but it’d be pretty cool to go out like a Viking, don’t you think? ( photo)

When you think about what is bizarre, it is likely only because something is different or foreign. It may be weird, especially to people in faraway lands, to bury people in wooden boxes, throw stones and dirt on top and visit them in what is essentially a yard.

But that’s obviously normal to anyone in this country. What is not so normal or might be called bizarre by someone from here are the following 10 cultural funeral rituals around the world that still exist today — and a few that, ahem, died out long ago.



Strippers at funerals has apparently become so popular that the Chinese government had to issue a pledge to crackdown on strippers at funerals though the Ministry of Culture. But it is a somber occasion, so why not throw a party? It likely began as a way to draw a crowd to ceremonies, but just don’t tell the wife you were at a funeral. She might not enjoy the smell of body oil and baby powder.



Many Norse funerals were conducted by putting the deceased on a viking ship — or, more likely, a smaller replica of one because why lose a useful vessel? — lighting it on fire and sending the deceased out on the water. What I always wondered was what happened if the person died in winter and the water was are all frozen over?


(NewScientist Photo)
(NewScientist Photo)

In 2006, a Parsi woman took photos of the rotting bodies left to decompose out in the open in Mumbai, India, and people were a little shocked. Other problems of this centuries-old practice are that it’s done in a big city of more than 15 million people, so the baking flesh probably smells like, well, death. There is also not that many vultures left — two species are endangered — to consume the dead, and the bodies don’t decompose as well in the rainy seasons.



This tribe native to the Pacific Northwest would throw the deceased into a large pit and let the animals have at them. I suppose depending on how many people died, there would usually be a large, well-fed local animal population around, but historians say the villages really stunk. And no wonder — there were bodies left around in a pit.



The Bo people of southern China used coffins as far back as hundreds of years ago, except they hung them from mountain cliffs. These people died out, but their mysterious burial ritual remains an example of their belief that the practice prevented the bodies from being taken by beasts or animals and that it would bless the soul.



In some traditional Tibetan Buddhist cultures, the deceased are laid atop a mountain and left to decompose. The remains are also left for birds of prey like vultures to consume. Buddhists believe the body is a mere vessel and therefore do not treat it with special reverence, hence the schlepping it up a mountainside and tossing it on some rocks and leaving it there.



In some Hindu cultures in Asia, if a husband was killed or died, the widow was expected to also perish. But in maybe the most painful and horrific way possible: by committing suicide on the husband’s funeral pyre.



In some circles on this African island nation, the dead are wrapped in cloths and buried. But, from time to time, dug up again and brought to the party. They are then brought around the village so people can dance and hang out with their loved one’s remains.


(okayafrica Photo)
(okayafrica Photo)

Always wanted to be a professional baseball player but couldn’t hit a curveball? Then get buried in a baseball-themed casket! Ghana belief in the afterlife is a reason that elaborate and physically representative shapes are used for remains, and they usually depict someone’s professional aspirations also.



How about getting your remains launched into space as a last rite? It would be one hell of a ride, that’s for sure. Cram your remains into a rocket filled with astronauts, space junk and a bunch of tiny instruments and have them released into eternity to become one with the universe. Floating among the stars and nebulas sounds kind of peaceful … too bad it starts at around $1,295 — and that only includes spaceflight and a return to Earth.

Noah Zuss is a reporter for TheBlot Magazine.

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