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Another Article About Strange Funeral Practices and Customs
I have already written an article on some bizarre funeral practices, but there are so many more that I just had to write another one. The last article returned to the practice of Sati in India, the hanging coffins of the Bo people in southwestern China, the strangulation of the family of the deceased in Fiji, cannibalism practiced in several places and the burials of skulls in Kiribati. These next ones are just as weird as the ones in the previous article.
Mummification is not restricted to ancient Egyptians, but there are still many customs that use it as a means of burying the deceased. One group that practiced mummification were the Sokushinbutsu Buddhists of Japan. The process took them about 2,000 days to prepare. They started the process by eating only nuts and seeds for 1,000 days to rid their bodies of fat, the next 1,000 days they ate only bark and roots and drank poisonous tea. Urushi tree sap base. The tea caused vomiting which led to rapid fluid loss and made their bodies too toxic for maggots to eat. After the 2,000 days of preparation had passed, they locked themselves in a tomb or grave just large enough to sit in the lotus position. The tomb would be completely sealed except for a tube to let in air and a bell. They would ring the bell daily to tell others they were alive, and when the bell stopped, the monks would wait another 1,000 days to dig up the deceased to see if the mummification worked. If so, they were considered a Buddha and placed in the temple to be viewed and worshipped. They were exposed, revered and considered semi-Buddhas if that didn’t work out. In case you were wondering, the whole process takes about 9 years.
The Zoroastrian people practice a form of celestial burial using a Tower of Silence, or Dakhma. Towers of Silence are stone structures that have a bull’s eye on top and also have a space inside the tower. The deceased is placed atop a stone tower in its corresponding circle of the bull’s eye, the outer circle is for men, the middle is for women, and the smaller one is for children. They are left in the open as bait for vultures; they eat the flesh of the body only their bones before the corpse demon can take it. The bones are then left for about a year and then placed in a heap inside the tower. They eventually turn to dust and are washed out to sea. Iran no longer allows this practice, but other places in India still allow it and consider it the person’s last form of charity.
In China, some people invite strippers to funerals, not to be nice to them or to get a date, but to get them to strip. Traditionally, the more people who show up for the funeral, the luckier your family is. Thus, families invite everyone to the funeral, whether or not they know the deceased. One way to do this is to invite strippers and exotic dancers to funeral processions in hopes of drawing a large crowd. This practice is actually illegal in China, but it hasn’t stopped anyone from trying to draw a crowd to a loved one’s funeral.
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