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Odd Religious Traditions II
Posted In: Information and Theories  5/13/11
By: Yona Williams

What we consider strange rituals of the death can be completely normal for cultures around the world. This article will highlight some of the different ways that a culture or ethnic group may deal with death – from the way the dead are buried to traditions in mourning.

Yanomamo – Eating Ash

The Yanomamo is a tribe that lives in parts of Brazil and Venezuela. The culture tries very hard to separate themselves from modern society. Because of this, many of their old traditions are still followed. For example, when a member of a family dies, the body is burned and the ashes are then eaten.  Other tribes have been noted to follow similar traditions regarding ash eating.

China – Hanging of Coffins

People who live in China and other cultures have been linked to a religious tradition that sees some family members being buried and hung over the sides of cliffs. There have been photographs that show coffins on cliffs. To the person standing on the ground, they appear as brown and black dots. The tradition was especially followed when children and high-ranking members of society had died.

Satere-Mawe People – Initiation Rite

Young boys in a variety of cultures undergo rites of passage into manhood or other levels of their life. In the Satere-Mawe culture, young boys are asked to wear a glove that has been covered and laden with bullet ants. The ants inflict extremely painful stings to the boy, who cannot remove the glove until 10 minutes has passed. The process is repeated for several months and does not stop until the family tells him that he is allowed to stop.

Indian Tradition – Tossing of Babies

Families living in Solapur, India are required to bring their babies to a designated terrace measuring 50 feet, where the child is then thrown off. At the foot of the tower, there are people waiting for the baby. They hold sheets so that they can safely catch the infant. This tradition is followed as a way to make sure that the baby enjoys a prosperous, long life.

Cannibalism and the Aghoris

Cremation grounds and other sources of dead bodies play an important role in the tradition of the Aghoris – a Hindu sect thought to have separated from the Kapalika order during the 14th century AD. The previous sect dated back to 1000 AD. Because of some traditions that the Aghoris have adopted, many mainstream Hindus do not consider them as being associated with the religion.

The cannibalistic ways of the Aghoris is not the only thing that separates the Aghoris from other Hindu sects, as they also embrace rituals that involve alcohol. Corpses are either pulled out of a river or collected from a place of cremation. The bodies are consumed raw or cooked on an open flame. The Aghoris view a dead body as natural matter that does not have any connections to the person it once was.


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