Of all the uncertainties in life, death is one of the few things, if not the only one, that is certain. (Some people don’t pay taxes, after all.) Sooner or later, barring some wild advances in medical science, everyone reading this will die. anthropology, anthropology, anthropology
We typically either cremate or bury the deceased, based on religious and personal beliefs. However, people from around the world practice an array of unusual rituals (to Western sensibilities) in order to commemorate and dispose of the dead. Here are ten of those practices.
Sati (also spelled suttee) is a Hindu practice in which a recently widowed woman is burned to death on her husband’s funeral pyre. This is either done voluntarily or by the use of force. Other forms of sati also exist, such as being buried alive and drowning. This practice was particularly popular in Southern India and among the higher castes of society. anthropology, anthropology, anthropology
Sati is considered the highest expression of wifely devotion to her dead husband. The practice was outlawed in 1827, but it has still occasionally occurred in some parts of India.
9. Mortuary Totem Poles
Totem Poles refer to the tall cedar poles with multiple figures carved by Native Americans of the Pacific Northwest. Mortuary totem poles, especially those of the Haida people, have a cavity on top which is used to hold a burial box containing the remains of a chief or important person.
These remains are placed in the box a year after the death. The box is hidden from view by a frontal board, which is carved or painted with a lineage crest and placed across the front. The shape and design of the board give it the appearance of a large crest.
8. The Viking Funeral
The Vikings’ funeral and burial rituals were affected by their pagan beliefs. They believed that death would lead them into an afterlife and into one of the nine Viking realms. Because of this, they tried their hardest to send the deceased to a successful afterlife. They typically did this either by cremation or inhumation.
The funeral of a Viking chief or king was much more bizarre. According to an account of one such death ritual, a chief’s body was placed in a temporary grave for ten days while new clothes were being prepared for him. During this time, one of his thrall women had to “volunteer” herself to join the chief in the afterlife. She was then guarded day and night and given plenty of alcohol. Once the funeral ceremony started, she had to sleep with every man in the village. She was then strangled with a rope and finally stabbed by the village matriarch. The bodies of the chief and the woman were then placed on a wooden ship, which served as the cremation pyre.