7 Bizzare Burial Rituals Across The Globe: Know How Different Countries Bid Goodbye To Dead Ones!
Death and bereavement is a part of human development. Individuals react differently to the death of their loved ones. Some people die a natural death while others unpredictably leave us. Hence, grieving and saying goodbye to a loved one is extremely important and is also considered healthy. It helps us move on and yet keeps them alive in our memories in every possible way.
There are broadly two ways to bid farewell to the departed- burial and cremation. Different religions and different countries believe in different beliefs. Here are a few peculiar and offbeat burial and cremation rituals that you might never have heard of.
Antyeshti is a Sanskrit word which means, “The last sacrifice”. It is also referred to as antim sanskar, antya kriya, or vahni sanskara. The body is carried by four people on their shoulders to the cremation ground by the banks of a river accompanied by family and friends.
The feet of the person face south. Then, preferably the eldest son or a male griever offers dry wood to the body, recites a hymn, and places sesame seeds and rice in the mouth of the dead person.
An earthen pot is filled with water and a hole is made in it. The lead griever circles around the body and breaks the pot near the head. The body is then set on fire. The ceremony is completed when the priest pierces the skull with a stake to release the spirit.
After the ceremony, the burnt ashes are collected and these ashes are offered into the Ganges or the nearest river or sea. This ceremony is called “Asthi visarjan”.
Jade Burial Suit, Han Dynasty, of China
A jade burial was performed when a member of the royal family died. The jades that were used to make the tomb were usually rectangular or square however, archeologists found some tombs with triangular and rhombic jades too.
It was a very expensive burial and hence the royal families could afford such an extravagant burial. It took several years and a lot of labor to make one such tomb for the royal family.
According to the book of Later Han, a different kind of thread was used to bury different people. For instance, the gold thread was used for the tomb of an emperor. A silver one was used for the princes, princesses, and dukes of the court. The sons and daughters of price and princesses were given a copper thread and the artists and other men of the court were given a silk thread.
Sky burial, Tibet
Sky burial is a burial ritual performed in Tibet. It is quite disturbing and yet an intriguing sort of burial. In this, the corpse is brutally dragged to a mountain, chopped into pieces, and then thrown into a distant land where the vultures are already waiting.
Bya gtor translates to “alms for the bird” in Tibetan. It is believed that a person’s spirit remains constant and it only changes the body. Hence your body should provide nourishment and help the other living organism once one’s spirit has left one’s body.
Burial beads, South Korea
Even though it's not a traditional ritual and it does not go back into centuries, it is still a very beautiful way of remembering a loved one. The trend however started when the country ran out of space to bury bodies.
The CEO of “death bead”, Bae Jae-yul, has been converting ashes of a loved one into beads for over a decade now. He has served over 1000 customers in the past decade.
According to the CEO, the ashes of the dead are ground in a fine powder. This is done inside a special machine. It is then heated and shaped into beads. Usually, the colors are different. This is because the color and density of the beads vary from person to person.
Several claims it is a beautiful way to remember the departed souls and saves you the heartache to go and visit a grave.
Famadihana is a burial ritual performed by the Malagasy, the people of Madagascar. This ritual is known since the 17th century. It is believed by the Malagasy that the soul of a departed ancestor joins the world after the body is completely decomposed and all the ceremonies are performed. Hence people of Madagascar, come together as families and celebrate the kinship every seven years.
Hanging Coffins, China, The Philippines
Hanging coffins are more of a mystery than a ritual in southern China. These coffins are estimated to be around 3000 years old. According to the experts, these coffins belong to the Bo and Guyue people who never cremated or buried the body but hung them through a cliff.
Similar rituals were performed in other countries like the Philippines and Indonesia. Although no written record states the reason behind the hanging of the coffins, it was believed that hanging a coffin to a cliff will help the deceased to reach heaven.
Smoked Mummies, Papua New Guinea
The smoked mummies had been mummified since the 1950s. It was a bunch of North American researchers who helped the villagers restore the mummies. One of the mummies was of a warrior named Moimango. The corpses had been mummified in real life sitting positions.
This process of smoking the mummies is practiced in Koke village and Oiwa village. And even though afterlife was not a concept among the Anga clan, they believed that the spirits of the body that are not treated properly, act as some sort of a curse to the crops and the well being of the clan.