There is a lot to consider when it comes time to send your loved ones to the big unknown. Our beliefs, convictions and emotions play a role in the method and the way we choose to honor the deceased. Some methods are simple and serene, while other methods are exaggerated and celebratory. So join us today to analyze 5 unique and interesting ways in which people bury their dead to better understand the cultural diversity of the world we live in when it comes to the dead.
The Sokushinbutsu were monks or Buddhist priests who went through a rigorous and prolonged process of causing their own death that became mummification. Taking place in some parts of Japan, only 24 such incidents have been discovered to date. This belief states that if the process was successful, then the monk was immediately seen as a Buddha and placed in the temple to see it. The practice is no longer defended by any of the Buddhist sects and has been banned in Japan.
- Suttee (self-immolation)
Suttee, also known as Sati, is a social funeral practice where the deceased’s wife would immolate herself on her husband’s funeral pyre and derive from the original name of the goddess Sati. There are measures to stop biased and unfair gender practices, even if some consider it reasonable and a glorification towards dead women. However, the practice is still sadly practiced on some rare occasions in India both voluntarily and involuntarily.
- End cannibalism.
Some Native American and Indian cultures practiced final cannibalism, which is the practice of eating the flesh of a human being from the same community. As shocking as it sounds, this practice was once common throughout the world. A fact that was confirmed by the studies of the principal investigator Michael Alpers, who discovered that the genes that protect against prion diseases (that spread through final cannibalism) were widespread throughout the world, indicating that final cannibalism it was really common.
- Towers of silence.
The corpses are placed on a raised circular structure, known as dakhma or “Cheel Gar”. The term “Torres Del Silence” is actually a neologism attributed to the translator of the British colonial government in India called Robert Murphy. The roof of the structure is divided into three rings where the men are arranged in the outer ring, the women in the second circle and the children in the interior. When the corpses become sun-bleached bones after a year, they are collected and placed in an ossuary well where they mix with lime and gradually disintegrate.
- Aboriginal body exposure
As in the Indian culture of North America, the corpses are placed on wooden scaffolds so that they are exposed to the natural elements and gradually rot and disintegrate. This ritual has two main stages: first, leave the corpse on the elevated platform and then cover it with leaves and branches until the flesh has rotted. The second stage occurs after all the meat has rotted and only bones remain, the bones are painted with red okra and allowed to disintegrate.
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