10 Unique Burial Traditions Across The World

The diversity of cultures in the world makes it a more beautiful place – how intriguing some cultures are! Every country, tribe, or ethnic group has different ways they present their cultures and this includes the way they send their deceased loved ones off. No matter how enthralling the burial traditions of some cultures are, the sad fact is that their loved ones cannot be brought back to life. Quite frankly, the knowledge of some of these burial traditions is startling, yet fascinating. Here are ways in which some cultures across the world carry out their burial traditions.

1. Sky Burial

Sky Burial
Eagle feeding on the dead body

This is a funeral tradition practiced by the Tibetans. The body of the deceased is placed on a mountain top to decompose and be fed on by scavenging animals such as carrion birds. To the Buddhists, corpses are empty shells, and being fed on is a way of giving back to the living. The ritual is also believed to carry the spirit of the dead closer to heaven.

2. Hanging Coffin

Hanging coffins/ Image credit -Tropical Vacations
Hanging coffins/ Via -Tropical Vacations

This burial practice is done by the people of Sagada in the Philippines. Before their death, the elderly usually carve their own coffins. The dead are placed in the hand-carved coffin and tied or nailed to the side of a high mountain. This is done with the belief that the higher a corpse, the closer it is to its ancestral spirit.

3. Funeral Stripers in Taiwan

Funeral Striper
Funeral Striper

Having a well-attended burial is a great honor for the people of Taiwan in China. To achieve this, Stripers are invited to the funeral and a grand feast is organized to attract more mourners due to the belief that the higher the mourners, the more honored the deceased is.

4. Famadihana

Famadihana/ Via – Musings of a Jungle Queen

Famadihana, also known as “Turning of the bones” is a practice of the Malagasy people of Madagascar. Families dig up the corpses of their late ones, rewrap them with new clothes, and rewrite their names on the clothes so they won’t be forgotten. This practice is held every 5-7 years after burial.

5. The Ganga Ritual in India

Ganga River/ Image credit - Hindustan Times
Ganga River/ Via – Hindustan Times

In this culture, when a person dies, the corpse is cremated and the ashes are taken to the Ganga river – the most sacred river in India. The people of India believe that if the ashes are scattered in a sacred place, the deceased will escape the cycle of rebirth and go straight to heaven. Hence, the Ganga Ritual is otherwise known as “The escape of the cycle of ritual birth”.

6. The Tower of Silence

Tower of Silence
Tower of Silence

The Zoroastrians of Iran are believers of the oldest religion in Iran. They make use of the tower of silence for the burial of their deceased to prevent soil contamination. The corpses are eaten by dogs and the remains are taken to the tower where vultures will feed on them. The bones are then taken to a pit and bathed with Lime. This act is believed to raise the corpse to heaven.

7. Fantasy Coffin

Fantacy coffin
Fantasy coffin

In Ghana, coffins are made for their late ones in the structure of what they liked or liked to do when they were alive. Coffins could also be designed to suit the deceased personality, for instance, a Fisherman’s coffin could be carved out as a fish. This is to make them remember who they were and what they left behind as they journey to the next life.

8. Smoking Corpse Funeral

Smoking Corpse Funeral/ Via - Cloudmind
Smoking Corpse Funeral/ Via – Cloudmind

This practice is held among the Tinguian people in the Philippines. The Corpse is dressed in beautiful garments and accessories. Cigarettes are placed in the corpse’s mouth and lit from time to time. This will go on for several days or weeks before the body is laid to rest.

9. Finger Amputation

Finger Amputation Burial
Finger Amputation Burial

When a loved one dies in the Dani tribe in Papua, a province in Indonesia, New Guinea. The females are expected to cut some of their fingers, and the female babies may also have the tip of their fingers bitten off by their mothers. Men are rarely involved in this practice, except for a few older ones. According to them, the significance is to ward off spirits and keep away restless spirits.

10. Ashes to Beads

Ashes to bead/ Via - 2013ecwisnerphoto
Ashes to bead/ Via – 2013ecwisnerphoto

In some parts of South Korea, when a loved one dies, they honor the dead by cremating his corpse and turning the ashes to bead. They take the bead with them everywhere they go and they believe this will keep them in connection with their dead loved ones.