10 Unusual Things About Death Rituals From Around The World

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Of all the uncertainties in life, death is one of the few things, if not the only one, that is certain. (Some people don’t pay taxes, after all.) Sooner or later, barring some wild advances in medical science, everyone reading this will die.

We typically either cremate or bury the deceased, based on religious and personal beliefs. However, people from around the world practice an array of unusual rituals (to Western sensibilities) in order to commemorate and dispose of the dead. Here are ten of those practices.

10. Sati

Sati (also spelled suttee) is a Hindu practice in which a recently widowed woman is burned to death on her husband’s funeral pyre. This is either done voluntarily or by the use of force. Other forms of sati also exist, such as being buried alive and drowning. This practice was particularly popular in Southern India and among the higher castes of society.

Sati is considered the highest expression of wifely devotion to her dead husband. The practice was outlawed in 1827, but it has still occasionally occurred in some parts of India.

9. Mortuary Totem Poles

Totem Poles refer to the tall cedar poles with multiple figures carved by Native Americans of the Pacific Northwest. Mortuary totem poles, especially those of the Haida people, have a cavity on top which is used to hold a burial box containing the remains of a chief or important person.

These remains are placed in the box a year after the death. The box is hidden from view by a frontal board, which is carved or painted with a lineage crest and placed across the front. The shape and design of the board give it the appearance of a large crest.

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