We live in a beautifully diverse world. From religious and cultural practices to a plethora of beliefs, it’s what defines us a group and society.
For one, burials and funeral traditions vary from one country to the next. In fact, there are plenty of strange albeit fascinating funeral traditions around the world that continue to boggle our minds. This is the very reason why many tourists flock from one side of the world to the next.
Some continue to practice and live by these traditions while others have deemed it inhumane and of ill means. Be that as it may, allow these interesting death rituals to captivate you.
- Hanging coffins
Tourists visit parts of Indonesia, Philippines and China to catch a glimpse of hanging coffins placed throughout cliffs and mountainsides. Just the sight of it in a photo is enough to behold. Once you’re there, it’s impossible not to be bewildered by it and its origins.
The communities who practice this ritual believe that the dead should be as close to the sky as possible, to ensure that their spirits are closer to heaven. It also shows that the communities hold their deceased beloved with high respect and gratitude.
- Jazz funeral
Music is a big part of funeral services. Music played during the service may vary from one kind to the next. However in New Orleans, the affinity towards jazz music continues to be evident even when someone passes away.
In this fascinating burial ritual, the jazz procession leads the deceased from the church or funeral home to the grave, all while jazz is played live. Upon burial, a merrier set of music is played during the post-funeral party as means to celebrate the life of the lost loved one.
- Burial beads
The practice of cremation has become one of the most popular forms of memorial services in recent years. As to how and where the ashes end up, most families put them in an urn and displayed at home or spread into the sea.
In South Korea, the ashes of the deceased are pressed into jewelry-like beads that are often colorful and are kept in an urn or bottle.
- Fantasy coffins
Fantasy coffins have once flocked the news as well as the unwavering interest of curious people. The quirky tradition is believed to have started in Ghana, and continues to be a practice among certain communities.
These customized, elaborate coffins are made to signify that death is not the end and life will continue on just as it did on earth and onto the next life. All these coffins are made to order and some of the most iconic ones include a Coca Cola bottle and airplane.
- Funeral strippers
Some families prefer a non-somber way of celebrating their departed. Others like to throw parties while some would serve alcoholic beverages and play festive music to remember their dead by.
In Taiwan, the amount of people who come to a funeral matters. Often, grieving families prepare feasts and invite the entire neighborhood for the occasion. Most of the time, it even includes hiring funeral strippers to attract more people.
- Sky burials
In some parts of Mongolia, India and China, a sky burial is done in the act of offering up the deceased to the heavens or offered to the wildlife as an act of charity. It is a traditional form of excarnation, wherein the body is believed to escape its physical form in order for the soul to be released.
Another reason why sky burials are practiced is the climate in Mongolia makes it hard for communities to practice traditional burials. Sometimes, the deceased’s body is chopped up into smaller pieces and offered to the animals, particularly to birds.
- Finger amputation
New Guinea is known to practice some of the most strange and fascinating rituals known to man. In the event of death, the Dani people are known to cut off their own fingers. When the eldest male of the house dies, women and children related to the deceased will have to amputate their fingers. Afterwards, they will tie the pieces together and cut them off with an axe. The amputated flesh is then burned to ashes and stored in a sacred place.
This ritual is believed to be symbolic of the pain suffered by those who are grieving after losing a loved one. This is also believed to help chase away the bad spirits. However, the practice is said to have been banned.
- Totem Poles
Somewhere along the Pacific northwest coast of North America, Native Americans practice the burial of significant people in their communities a little differently.
Some of the totem poles we enjoy taking photographs of as we tour the area have a little something extra inside them: The remains of a shaman, a chief or a notable warrior. To get the body fit into the pole, it would often be crushed to the smallest bits. This is to remember them by and for the poles to act as guardians as the deceased cross to the afterlife.