Most of us know about basically two ways of saying goodbye to the dead: cremations and burials. Dig a little deeper though (pun intended), and you’ll be surprised to know about some of the strange, creative and straight up bizarre funerals that different cultures around the world practise. From offering the bodies to vultures, to beating the corpse to a pulp, there’s some crazy ways to dispose of the dead.
Here are some weird funeral rituals from around the world!
1. Burial beads: Turn the dead into colourful beads
Many people in South Korea opt to compress the remains of the dead person into gem-like beads in different colours which are then displayed at home.
2. Endocannibalism: Eating the dead
In the old days, the Melanesians of Papua New Guinea and the Wari people of Brazil would eat the dead in order to expel the fear and mystery that surrounds the concept of death. The Yanomami people also practise this.
3. Become a memorial reef in the ocean
A company in the US called Eternal Reefs compresses remains into a sphere or reef ball that is attached to a reef in the ocean, providing a habitat for sea life. Probably leads to some curious fish!
4. Famadihana: Turning of the bones
Once every seven years, the Malagasy people of Madagascar exhume the bodies of loved ones, wrap them in cloth and dance with the corpse sacks. It probably smells pretty bad, so they spray it with wine and tell stories of their families.
5. Buried in a fantasy coffin
In Ghana, people like to be buried in something that represents their lives. These include coffins shaped like planes for pilots, fish for fishermen and a Mercedes for a businessman!
6. Tibetan sky burial: Offer the bodies to birds
Many, especially Buddhists, sometimes cut the body up into pieces and leave them on a hill for the birds to feast on. Buddhists see dead bodies as empty vessels and consider these sky burials an act of charity and compassion.
7. Finger amputation in Papua New Guinea
Among the Dani People, the death of a loved one meant that any women and children related to the deceased had to cut off some of their fingers. This was done to drive away spirits, and is now banned.
8. Jazz burials in New Orleans
With big horn band culture at the heart of New Orleans, it’s not a surprise that they play music even in death. The funeral procession is led by a big horn band, which plays sad tunes at first, followed by upbeat jazz and blues numbers accompanied by furious dancing.
9. Blindfolded funeral
The Benguet of Northwestern Philippines blindfold their dead and place them next to the main entrance of the house.
10. Tinguian Funeral: Makes it look like they’re still alive
The Tinguian people of the Philippines dress bodies in their best clothes, sit them on a chair and place a lit cigarette in their lips.
11. Caviteno tree burial
The Caviteño, who live near Manila, bury their dead in a hollowed-out tree trunk. The tree is selected a while before the person’s death.
12. Apayo kitchen burial
The Apayo, who live in the north Philippines, bury their dead under the kitchen.
13. Environmental friendly burial
In this method, you skip the embalming processes and get biodegradable, woven-willow caskets, which decompose into the ground.
14. Zoroastrian vulture funeral
The corpse is washed with bull urine, after which it is visited by a holy dog, or “Sagdid”. It is then placed atop the tower of silence, where it swiftly devoured by vultures. These vultures seem to be getting pretty well fed!
15. Haida totem pole funeral
The Haida people of North America had a special ritual for the death of a chief or shaman. The body would be crushed to a pulp with clubs and put in a suitcase box. The box would then be placed in a mortuary totem pole in front of the deceased person’s house.