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Odd Religious Traditions I
Posted In: Meditation And Spirituality  5/12/11
By: Yona Williams

There is an ethnic group in Indonesia that follows a tradition of living with the dead. When a loved one dies, they wrap up the corpse and the body is kept in the house. Why would someone want to live with the dead? It is the belief that act will help preserve the soul of the deceased to make sure it stays intact until the body can be buried. Other religious traditions that we see as 'odd' are discussed in this article.

The Masai – Baby Traditions

The Masai Tribe lives in parts of Tanzania and Kenya. They follow the tradition of spitting on one another as a greeting during religious holidays. When a baby is first born, the men will hold it in their arms and repeatedly spit on the child. It is their belief that if a child is not showered in such a way, they will face bad luck for the rest of their life.

Ainu Spirituality – Bear Spirits

The Ainu people lived in Japan and the Russian Far East. The culture of the Ainu is estimated to date back to around 1200 CE. The Ainu People believe that bears are god-like creatures that walk with the humans. Because of this, they followed a tradition called the Iyomante ritual. They would slaughter bears that were hibernating in their caves and take away any cubs.

The babies were raised by the natives for a couple of years, but were eventually choked to death. The care and contril of a growing bear became difficult to manage after awhile. The 'sending ceremony' that focused on the spirit of the bear was a central part of the Ainu spirituality. The ritual was viewed as sending the spirit of the bear back to the spirit world.

Over time, killing a bear brought on disapproval from some Ainu, and the ceremony was acted out like a theatrical presentation. However, the tradition is still seen as significant to the people and it is said that private ceremonies are still held.

Another tradition of the Ainu included prayer sticks. Also known as ikupasuy, prayer sticks were used as a method of communicating with the gods. Carvings on the sticks were used to identify the worshipper. It was believed that the sticks carried the prayer of the user to the gods. When a stick was made, a great deal of time and attention went into its creation. In the end, the stick represented a work of art associated with the spirituality of the owner.  

Ancient Romans – Feeding the Deceased

Evidence has been uncovered that suggests that the ancient Romans would enjoy meals with the dead bodies of their loved ones. They would also feed the deceased some of the food. It is thought that they accomplished this feat by transferring the food in pipes that were attached to the organs of the dead. Food, honey and wine were some of the substances that were fed to the dead.


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