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Stuff that matters

Cremation is just one of the options for a burial, there are actually many ways different cultures say goodbye to a loved one

There is not just one way to say goodbye to a loved one who has sadly passed away.

Usually, in the UK, a person is either buried or cremated and a ceremony takes place to celebrate their life.

This gives loved ones a chance to say their goodbyes and, in some cases, helps them to grieve their loss.

However, other cultures ‘celebrate’ death with rituals which many Brits may find bizarre.

Although some of these tradition may seem odd, they signify a lot, with some including water and sky burials.

Sky burial – Tibet
This Tibetan funeral practice involves placing the deceased on a mountaintop to decompose whilst being exposed ‘to the elements’ or eaten by scavenging animals.

It’s a specific type of excarnation practiced in the Chinese provinces and autonomous regions of Tibet, Qinghai, Sichuan and Inner Mongolia and Mongolia.

Villagers will take the body to the sky burial site by horse or car, and the master of the sky burial ceremony will then perform rituals all over the body.

Water burial – Scandinavia
Known from old Norse poetry and Icelandic sagas, a ship burial involves the deceased being laid in a boat and given grave offerings.

After this, piles of stone and soil would be laid on top of the remains to create a tumulis (burial ground.)

The idea of a ‘Viking funeral’ is wanted by many today, but as seen in a Q&A from Scattering Ashes, it definitely won’t be done the traditional Nordic way.

You can even see an undisturbed ship burial at Sutton Hoo in Suffolk, with a vast array of Anglo-Saxon artefacts.

Ashes into death beads – South Korea

‘Death beads’ aren’t exactly a fashion trend, they are a way of honouring the dead in South Korea.

The idea of death beads has gained popularity since a 2,000 law that required anyone burying their dead after the year 2,000 to remove the grave 60 years after burial.

This is due to the fact that South Korea is simply running out of burial space.

Cultural changes have seen an increase in the cremation rate, and the beads are seen as more wholesome than creepy.

A cigarette in the lips – Philippines
The Tinguians in the Philippines dress up the deceased in their best outfit and sit the body in the chair.

The body will then remain there for several weeks, often with a lit cigarette placed between the lips.

Corpses are also buried sitting up and women have their hands tied to their feet to prevent ‘ghosts from roaming’.

Rock climbing – Sagada, Philippines
The Igorot tribe of the Mountain Province in Northern Philippines practicing the tradition of burying their dead in hanging coffins.

Although it only takes place every few years or so now, the coffins are either tied or nailed to the sides of cliffs, and measure only about one metre in length, as the corpse is buried in the foetal position.

Before being taken for burial, it is then wrapped again in a blanket and tied with rattan leaves while a small group of men chip holes into the side of the cliff to hammer in the support for the coffin.

Then, the group climb up the side of the cliff and place the corpse inside a hollowed out lumber coffin.

Catch up with the dead – Madagascar
Famadihana is the ‘day of the dead’ for Madagascar, it’s held every five to seven years.

It’s where families will dig up their ancestors by exhuming them and wrapping them in fresh shrouds.

They perfume the bodies, dance with them, and even share stories with the corpses for a general catch up.

Funeral strippers – China

Funeral strippers are actually a thing in China.

As reported by The BBC, strippers are used to boost funeral attendance as large crowds are seen as a mark of honour for the deceased.

Understandably it’s not all to everyone’s taste, as seen in a report by The Global Times vowing to crack down on funeral strippers.