10 Unusual Death Rituals From Around The World

7. Ritual Finger Amputation Of The Dani People

The Dani people of Papua New Guinea believe that physical representation of emotional pain is essential to the grieving process. A woman would cut off the tip of her finger if she lost a family member or a child. In addition to using pain to express sorrow and suffering, this ritual finger amputation was done to gratify and drive away the spirits as well.

The Dani tribe believes that the essence of the deceased can cause lingering spiritual turmoil. This ritual is now banned, but evidence of the practice can still be seen in some of the older women of the community, who have mutilated fingertips.[4]

6. Famadihana

Famadihan-drazana, also known as Famadihana, is a ceremony that is used to honor the dead. It is the most commonly practiced traditional festival in the southern highlands of Madagascar. It occurs every seven years during winter in Madagascar, from July to September. Tears and crying are banned, and the ceremony is seen as festive, unlike that of a burial.

The ritual starts when the corpses are exhumed from their graves and rewrapped in new shrouds. Before the bodies are reinterred, they are hoisted up and carried around their tombs several times so that they can become familiar with their resting places. Famadihana also offers a chance for deceased family members to be reunited in one single family tomb. The celebration features loud music, dancing, parties with lots to drink, and feasting. The last Famadihana was in 2011, which means the next one will probably start soon.[5]

5. Sallekhana

Sallekhana, also known as Santhara, is the last vow prescribed by the Jain ethical code of conduct. It is observed by Jain ascetics at the end of their life by gradually reducing the intake of food and liquids until they are fasting at the end. The practice is highly respected in the Jain community.

The vow can only be taken voluntarily when death is near. Sallekhana can last up to 12 years, which gives the individual time to reflect back on life, purge old karmas, and prevent the creation of new ones. Despite the controversy, the Supreme Court of India lifted the ban on Sallekhana in 2015.[6]

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