Most of us know of two ways of bidding farewell to the dead – cremation or burial in a coffin. You may be surprised and even shocked to find out about funeral rituals practised by representatives of different world cultures.
National Geographic has compiled a list of the most unusual and terrifying funeral rituals.
The dead are cut into pieces and fed to carnivores
Many Buddhists in Mongolia and Tibet believe the soul moves on after death. They that the soul passes form the body, leaving it an empty vessel. To return the body of the deceased to the earth, it is cut into pieces and carried to the top of a mountain, where it is left to be consumed by carnivorous birds and other animals. This funeral ritual has been in practice for thousands of years. According to results of a recent survey, approximately 80% of residents of Tibet use it to this day.
Ashes of the deceased are divided in half by relatives and the workplace
In 99.8% of all cases bodies of the deceased are cremated in Japan. What is interesting is that work plays a major role in the life of the Japanese people. Often the ashes of the deceased person are divided in half between the relatives and the company where the person worked. Relatives take the urn with ashes to the family grave and the company carries its urn to the company cemetery. Tombstones at corporate cemeteries are related to the profession of the deceased worker – if the worker was engaged in, say, coffee delivery business, the tombstone may be shaped like a cup.
Ashes in South Korea are condensed to make pearls
In 2000, South Korea issued a law that required that all residents with dead relatives buried more than 60 years ago were to free up grave-space. Because of the declining cemetery territories, cremation has become more popular in this country. However, families don’t always wish to receive ashes of their relatives. This is why companies that offer to process ashes to make them into pearl-like jewellery have been developing rapidly in this country. South Koreans often keep these pearls in special glass cases.
Environmentally friendly funeral option becomes more and more popular
More than 50 million people die every year. Traditional funeral and cremation leave a negative impact on the environment. The so-called ‘green’ funeral is one of the ways to putting the dead to rest in an environmentally friendly way. More and more people in USA now prefer environmental friendly funeral options. This means refusal of the traditional coffins. Instead, they choose coffins made from cardboard, bamboo and jute coffins, which degrade quickly in the soil.
One of the most terrifying funeral traditions that were practised in Papua New Guinea and Brazil is the consumption of the dead person’s remains. Fortunately, it is very rare nowadays. It is possible that this ritual had originally formed as a result of famine experienced by tribes that practised cannibalism.