Funerals ceremonies are generally meant to give a loved one proper send-off into the spiritual world. Different communities have different ways in which they conduct their funeral rituals.
In this article, we are going to review some of the most bizarre rituals that some communities do, which prove to be scary.
Note that some of these rituals have been long abandoned.
Eating the dead
The ancient Melanesians of Papua New Guinea and the Wari people of Brazil literally feast on their dead relatives. Otherwise known as endocannibalism.
According to their repulsing ritual, eating a dead relatives was a gesture of honor to the departed.
It also signified expelling of fear and mystery that surrounds the concept of death.
Some of these communities still practice the ritual to date.
Body exhumation for a dance
The people of Malagasy tribe in the island of Madagascar found in the Indian Ocean exhume their dead relatives every after 7 years in a ceremony called “Famadihana” which means the turning of the ancestors’ bones.
During the peculiar event, relatives of the dead would exhume the remains, wrap them in new and clean clothes, and dance with them around the grave before re-entombing them.
Sleeping with the dead
The Toraja people form an ethnic group indigenous to the mountainous Pangala region of Indonesia’s South Sulawesi, about 800 km northeast of Bali.
The group, which mainly consists of Christian – mostly protestant, but also Catholic treat the dead as merely sick and not actually dead.
To them, they accept death as part of life’s journey, and when a family member passes away, in accordance with their traditional religion called “Aluk To Dolo” which means “a way of the ancestors”, they treat them as if they are sick “toma kula”.
Food, water and even cigarettes are offered to the dead on a daily basis, because it is believed the spirit remains near the body.
This ritual would go on until the funeral is scheduled, which may take several years to come if not decades.
Their burial ceremonies are always expensive. Perhaps that is why they take decades sourcing funds.
The Dani people of Papua New Guinea amputated their women and children’s fingers whenever a relative died.
According to their uncanny ritual, doing so was a way of driving away evil spirits.
Thankfully, the practice is now officially banned!
Burying the dead in sited positions.
The Abashuu clan which forms part of the Akabarasi subtribe of Luhya community from Western Kenya used to bury their people in a sited posture.
When a prominent member in the clan like an elder or a chief died, their body would be buried in a grass-thatched shanty specifically erected for the dead man in his compound, or even buried in their family houses.
Buried in a sitting posture. Image: Courtesy.
During this burial, the body was placed in a shallow grave in a sitting posture and covered with soil up to the neck leaving the head sticking out in the open.
The head would then be covered with a special hat in the shape of a pot.
The widow, or a medicine man in the clan would occasionally lift the hat and anoint the head with special herbs meant to kill the stench.
This would go on until the entire body decomposed.
Feasting the dead on scavengers
Natives of Tibet and Chinese provinces cast their dead relatives in the open to allow scavengers like vultures to feast on them in what is known as sky burials.
Sometimes the bodies are cut into pieces and left on a hill for the scavengers.
The ritual is also practiced in some parts of India such as Sikkim and Zanskar.