People have different customs and traditions. Their beliefs about the afterlife and the process of death are dictated by the norms, culture and religion. However, there are various ethnicities and cultures that have beliefs considered as strange by most people.
Marriage even in death
Suttee is a famous funeral tradition in old Hinduism. In this tradition, the woman, still alive, would be burned along with her dead husband. It was a mark of disrespect if a widow would not perform the suttee. According to the ancient Hindus, the woman has no place on Earth after the death of the husband.
Today, the suttee is already illegal in India. However, there are some evidences that prove that there were widows who performed the tradition despite the ban.
Killing of the loved one
A funeral tradition performed by some people in South Pacific Island in Fiji involves the killing of the dead’s loved one. They believe that the deceased should not be left alone in the other world, thus the need for a companion in the afterlife.
Dead bodies as animal feeds
People of different cultures have their own way of disposing the dead as feeds to wild animals. Some people in Tibet slice the body of their dead loved ones to attract vultures. The sliced dead body is placed in the higher places like mountains and temples. There, the vultures would eat the flesh of the dead body. Some ethnic people in Pacific Northwest coast of North America place the dead body of their loved ones into the pit and let the wild animals eat its flesh.
Eating the dead
This practice is done by the Korowai people in New Guinea and the Wari of the Amazon. The belief behind cannibalism in every culture is different. In some culture, people eat only their enemies and some eat only their loved ones.
Cannibalism as a funeral tradition is done by some tribes because of either of the two reasons. One reason is the belief that the wisdom and the strength of the deceased are can be transferred to the living by eating its brain or heart. The other reason is the lack of food source.
The burial tree
There are some people of different cultures who would place the bodies of their loved ones hanging on an old tree. This practice is done by North American Indians, Balinese, Naga and Australian aborigines.
Placing the dead on the tree reminds the living about the inevitability of death. It also brings the memories of the dead closer to the hearts of the living.
Display of coffins
In ancient China, there was this civilization called Bo. The Bo is an extinct ethnicity of China. The archaeologists discovered the graves made by the Bo people at the side of the hill. According to the archaeologists, this ancient people believed that by hanging the coffins of their loved ones at the side of the mountain could make the spirits closer to heaven and could also make them freely roam around the hill.
Re-digging of the graves
The Malagasy people in Madagascar have this weird funeral tradition that includes digging up the graves of their loved ones once in every seven years. This ritual is called Famadihana or the turning of the bones. During the ritual, the Malagasy people dig up the graves of their dead loved ones, wrap them in a new cloth, dance around them, and carry them around the village.
Famadihana is done because the Malagasy people believe that after a person dies, his body has to undergo the complete process of decomposition and his kins has to perform proper rituals. By doing so, his spirit would finally join the world of their ancestors. This ritual is their way to respect the dead and to bond with other relatives.
Religions and afterlife beliefs are the major reasons why some people are compelled to do strange funeral ceremonies and rituals. No matter how strange these may be, these traditions serve as the bond or a farewell between the dead and the living.