From your side of the world, saying goodbye to the dead might mean burial or cremation. For others, funerals are more than just burying the dead.
Call it weird, strange, bizarre, or even crazy, but here are eight unconventional ways practiced by other cultures when disposing their dead:
1Hanging of Coffins
In the “acceptable” world, coffins are buried deep in the ground in a cemetery. In a place called Sagada in the Philippines, coffins mean hanging it on the cliffs.
Igorots believe that in death, the soul must be in the most solemn and peaceful place. This way, the spirit will be able to easily find its way to Kabunian, their god, and attain peace. Because of this practice, the cliffs where the hanging coffins are located have become tourist spots as well, wowing crowds from all over the world.
2Tinguian Funeral: Makes It Look Like They’re Still Alive
Apparently, hanging coffins is just one of the bizarre funeral practices conducted by ethnic groups in the Philippines.
The Tinguian people make their dead look like they are still alive by dressing their bodies in their best clothes. The dead are also made to sit on a chair, have a lit cigarette on their lips, and treated as if they are alive.
3Environment-Friendly and Green Funerals
Believe it or not, there is such a thing as green funerals and it happens in the United States. This is because more people are choosing environment-friendly burials. This practice means foregoing the embalming process, using biodegradable or woven-willow caskets, and reducing concrete vaults. In fact, there are 40 environment-friendly cemeteries in the US to date.
4Mortuary Totem Poles
Totem poles usually tell stories of a peoples’ native culture. On the other hand, the Mortuary Totem Poles are different. They are special kinds of totem poles that house the remains of chiefs, notable warriors, or shamans after their bodies were crushed with clubs. The icons found on each pole act as guardians and guide the spirit to the afterlife.
5Buried in a Fantasy Coffin
Death is not just a time to mourn but also a time to celebrate the life of the deceased. In Ghana, the dead are buried in caskets that symbolize their life, including their personality and status in the society – even if it means being buried in caskets in various styles, say a beer can or planes.
6Zoroastrian Vulture Funeral
Apparently, Zoroastrians in Mumbai, India don’t need funeral plans. As part of their culture, they leave their dead in “dakhma” or the “Tower of Silence,” which will be eaten by vultures after the bodies are cleaned. They believe that the dead body becomes a source of defilement and corruption that could pollute sacred elements on Earth. Hence, they must be consumed by vultures.
7Become a Memorial Reef in the Ocean
Most people want to be buried in the cemetery. Some even have mausoleums so they can be buried beside family members. For the few, they prefer a memorial reef in the ocean.
Eternal Reefs, an American company, compress the remains of the dead in a reef ball or sphere. This will be attached to a reef in the ocean and provide a habitat for sea life. Who knows, it might lure a curious fish.
8Burial Beads: Turn the Dead into Colorful Beads
In case you opted for cremation, some allow you to take ashes and place it in containers like a locket. In South Korea, they do it differently. Instead of keeping the ashes as they are, they compress the remains of the dead into colorful gem-like beads. The beads are stored in jars and even used as home decorations.
What do you think? Weird? Maybe, but for people who practice these rites, it means something sacred, which we should all respect.