Sky Burial, Tibet

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Buddhists in Tibet value sending their loved ones’ souls to heaven. In the sky burial practice, carcasses are dismembered and placed outside for birds and other creatures to consume. This embraces the circle of life while also eliminating the now empty vessel of the body, allowing the soul to depart.

Famadihana, Madagascar

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This funeral ritual in Madagascar is more commonly known as “dancing with the dead.” Every few years, the Malagasy people open the tombs of their deceased and re-wrap them in new burial robes. They also do a dance in front of the tomb as music plays all around, hoping that the spirits are urged toward the afterlife and the process of decomposition is sped up.

Water Burial, Nordic

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Water is embraced by many cultures, particularly those in the Nordic region, in their rites of choice for the dead, ranging from placing coffins atop cliffs to actually using the water as a burial ground. They give the bodies back to the gods by setting the bodies adrift on “death ships,” either along a river or out into the ocean.

The Parade, India

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An Indian custom entails parading the corpse through the streets while wearing clothing that highlights the good qualities of the departed like red for purity or yellow for knowledge. The bodies are then doused with Ganges River water and burnt at the main crematory of the town in an effort to inspire spirits to find salvation and break the cycle of rebirth.

Towers of Silence, Iran

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According to ancient tradition, elevating a corpse to the sky for vultures to consume was the only option because it is thought that a dead body defiles everything it comes into contact with, including the earth and fire. The body is cleaned with bull’s urine then positioned atop a Tower of Silence, away from any contaminates among the living.

Death Beads, South Korea

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South Koreans have taken cremation a step further by converting the ashes of the deceased into beads. These beads are shiny and come in a variety of hues. The beads can then be displayed prominently inside a home, making them a more attractive alternative to a traditional urn when placed inside glass vases or even open in plates.

A Cigarette on the Lips, Philippines

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The Philippines have a number of different and exciting funeral rituals that make the country so unique. One funeral ritual that the Tinguian people practice involves dressing their deceased loved ones in fancy clothes. They then sit the body in a chair and press a lit cigarette between their lips.

Children in Red, Philippines

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Elsewhere in the Philippines, the Cebuano people celebrate death and life a little differently. They will dress up their children in red when they attend the funerals of loved ones. The reason is that it is believed that the colour of their clothes will decreases the chances of them seeing ghosts.

Coffin Hanging, Philippines

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A funeral ritual that sounds epic for those adrenaline junkies occurs in the Sagada region of the Philippines. After the death of their loved ones, they will hang the coffins from cliff faces, believing that the ritual will bring the deceased closer to heaven.

Back to the Tree, Philippines

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The people of Cavite like to bury their dead a bit differently, with a more circle of life and environmental touch. They go ahead and hollow out a tree, where they entomb their deceased vertically, believing it will give them back to the Earth. The dead also choose which tree before they are gone.

Blindfolded Dead, Philippines

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Perhaps one of the creepiest funeral traditions in this list of course happens in the Philippines. The people of Benguet take things a step further by blindfolding them, putting them in chairs and positioning them at the entrance of their home. I bet Halloween is confusing!

Viking Funerals, Nordic

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According to the writings of Ahmad ibn Fadlan, Viking funerals in the past were horrific. Dead Viking chieftains were dressed in new funeral robes while they were temporarily buried, and one of the chief’s slave females offered to accompany him to the hereafter. The girl would then have sex with every man in the Viking town before being stabbed and strangled to death by the matriarch of the tribe, following which she was placed on a wooden ship with her chief and set afire.

Funeral Strippers, Taiwan

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In Taiwan, funerals are frequently judged on their cost, leading to opulent events costing upwards of $20,000. Some funerals even go as far as hiring Electric Flower Cars, trucks that have been transformed into vibrantly coloured, neon-lit mobile platforms upon which strippers perform pole dances and stripteases and even dance exotically at the gravesides of the departed.

Fantasy Coffins, Ghana

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The Ghana fantasy coffin phenomenon sees coffins made into elaborate, intricate designs that reflect the life and passions of the deceased like a fish-shaped coffin for a fisherman or a beer bottle-shaped coffin for ale lovers. In 1989, a number of Ghanaian fantasy coffins were featured in an art exhibition at the Musée d’Art Moderne in Paris.

Smoked Mummies, Papua New Guinea

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The Anga people have a funeral custom that entails mummifying the bodies and hanging them in bamboo cages from clifftops. Several smoked mummies can be found in and around the communities, though the process is no longer frequently performed. It is said that this was the Anga people’s way of expressing their profound reverence for their gone.

Space Funerals, USA

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The first memorial spaceflight mission by American company Celestis saw the remains 24 people launched into orbit in 1997. Since then, Celestis has launched 12 additional space burial missions. The 2013-founded company Elysium Space gives customers the choice of a Milky Way, lunar, or shooting star monument.

Endocannibalism, Brazil

Cannibalism and Overpopulation: How An Amazon Tribe Ate Their Dead | The  New Republic

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In some cultures, eating the deceased is the finest way to pay them respect. These feasts of the dead are often referred to as “endocannibalism,” a technique to create a lasting bond between the living and the recently deceased. Cultures that engaged in endocannibalism included the Melanesians of Papua New Guinea and the Wari people of Brazil, albeit it is no longer practised.

Suspended Burials, China

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The enigmatic Bo people lived in the Hemp Pond Valley before the Ming Dynasty slaughtered them. With the exception of the striking hanging coffins they left behind—a eerie collection of wooden coffins that extend from the rock face to a height of approximately 300 feet—the Bo are today all but forgotten.

Sati, India

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Sati is a funerary ritual in which recently widowed women sacrificed themselves on their husband’s funeral pyre. Though the practise was assumed to be voluntary, there were numerous instances of women being coerced into Sati, sometimes even carried against their will to the fire.

Finger Amputation, Papua New Guinea

Grief: Ritual Finger Amputaion | Anthropological Perspectives on Death

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The Dani people of Papua New Guinea had to amputate their own fingers on top of losing a loved one. Any women connected to the deceased, as well as any children, were subject to this ceremony, which appeared to be harsh and confusing. The ritual served to both appease and drive away the spirits, and it also gave people a way to express their sorrow and suffering via physical pain.

Totem Poles, USA

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Although totem poles are a common sight in the American Northwest there is more to these symbols than first appears. Upon the death of a chief, shaman, or warrior passed away the body would be beaten into a pulp with clubs in order to fit inside a little wooden box the size of a suitcase. Then, in front of the deceased’s longhouse, the box would be positioned atop a unique mortuary totem pole where the images served as guardians for the spirits’ trip to the afterlife.

Aboriginal Funeral Tradition,  Australia

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After a family member passed away, the body was placed on an elevated platform and left to rot. In certain instances, the fluids from the decomposing corpse was applied to the bodies of young men to transmit the good traits of the deceased. After that, the bones were either buried in a cave or inserted inside a hollowed-out wood. And in other cases, family members would wear them for as long as a year.

Aluk Todolo, Indonesia

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An indigenous community known as the Torajans perform funerals in accordance with “Aluk Todolo” or “Way of the Ancestors.” The deceased is embalmed, and kept living under the same roof as their family, during a series of ceremonies that last for many days. Until funds can be obtained for the funeral, which could take years, they are not believed to be dead but are merely unwell.

Jazz Festivals, USA

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The tradition of playing music during funeral processions originated from the African pattern of celebrating most elements of life, including death. This custom persisted in New Orleans after the introduction of slaves to America. Brass bands in the early 18th century gained popularity, and jazz eventually replaced them as the preferred kind of music.

Specific Burial Grounds, Sweden

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Sweden requires everyone to be buried. In actuality, non-Christians must have access to cemeteries through parish churches. For instance Muslims are buried in distinct sections within the cemetery of the Swedish Church. This is specifically done in accordance with the law in Stockholm, where every religious organisation that requested a particular burial compound within a Swedish Church cemetery has obtained one.

Speaking to the Dead, South Africa

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The departed are heavily respected in South Africa because the Zulu people believe they are closer to God. Depending on what was saw and heard in dreams about the deceased, specific rituals must be performed. When performing these ceremonies at grave sites, family members first talk to the departed. Burning incense is usually done with a Zulu beer to speak with the deceased or ward off evil spirits. An animal is put to death on many occasions and for various causes.

Monks Carrying Coffins, Cambodia

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The end of a life cycle, rather than the end of one’s life, is how Cambodian Buddhists perceive death. There is a concept that all life develops through a series of cycles that include birth, adolescence, old age, death, and reincarnation; however, in order to advance to the next stage, rituals must be carefully carried out.

Dokhmenashini, India

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There is a population in India that upholds the Zoroastrian custom using vultures as their funeral rite. Because evil spirits can easily settle on a corpse, it is believed to be impure. This also implies that burial on land or at sea, as well as cremation, are unacceptable. The dokhmenashini exposure procedure is quick and environmentally friendly.

Go Green Funerals, USA

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Numerous Americans are choosing funeral practises that are friendlier to Mother Nature in today’s environmentally conscious society. These techniques include creating concrete reef balls out of cremated remains or using biodegradable woven-willow coffins that break down into the soil to nourish the marine ecosystem for future generations.

Livestreaming Funerals, Everywhere

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To see of this list, we think it suitable to share how the world has changed over the past few years, with livestreaming funerals becoming a booming this. Funerals are streamed live via webcam so that loved ones’ friends and relatives who are physically unable to attend can participate virtually.