There is indeed a lot of wonders in the world, from places to food, to laws and yes, cultural practices! What may seem normal to some may sound bizarre and out of the world to many. We are all from diverse groups with different beliefs and practices, rooting from unique geographies and way of living. And here are seven weird cultural practices around the world that may make you cringe, bring you goose bumps, or even make you laugh:
#1 Widow burning in India
We may love our life partners and vow to be with them through the ups and downs of life, but some Hindu communities have brought this to a hell of a different levelthe Sati. Sati is derived directly from a goddess’ name who killed herself due to her father’s humiliation to his husband. This has picked up popularity and was widely practiced until the ascending regard for feminism in recent times.
Widows are burned to death during her husband’s funeral pyre. This was believed to be the greatest form a woman could prove her self-devotion, love and sacrifice for her late husband. Other forms could exist, by outright burning or drowning them, sometimes voluntarily, and oftentimes by force or coercion. Although this has already been banned in today’s India, there has still been some reports of Sati occurring in some communities.
#2 Neck Rings in Thailand and African Tribes
Stiff neck rings are worn for long periods of time to elongate the neck, gradually stretching it as more rings or spirals are added over time. This has been a practice to some Asian cultures, more commonly in Thailand, and in some African tribes.
To men, this could be a key indicator of wealth or status, and to women, beauty. Some even start wearing it as early as the age of two. This custom is to achieve a very well-known type of ideal beauty, the elongated neck.
#3 Endocannibalism in the Amazon Rainforest
The Yanomami tribe who are living widespread across the amazon rainforest, practices endocannabalism. It is the eating of the flesh of a late loved one from the same community, tribe, family, or group. Not to be confused with cannibalism, but this tribe consumes the flesh of the dead! After death, they cover the body in leaves and leave it to nature for about thirty to forty-five days until it could be eaten.
They believe that death is not natural and leaving the corpse to decompose would be a burden for the dead person’s soul as it is a long and a tedious process. They instead cremate and consume the ashes. It has been said that the soul would rest and be in peace knowing that they will stay forever in their loved one’s body.
#4 Living with the Dead in Indonesia
The Toraja of Sulawesi in Indonesia keep the bodies of their loved for an extended period of time after death. They believe that a dead person who is still at home is not dead, but rather, sleeping for a long period of time. Even after passing, they still treat the corpse as if it were still alivefeeding it, changing its clothes, praying with it, and cleaning it.
They push off funeral ceremonies to garner as much relatives as they can to attend the ceremonies. On the other hand though, the rich usually tend for the body for longer lengths of time compared to the less fortunate ones.
#5 Finger Cutting in Indonesia
Crazy or not, the Dani tribe in Papua, Indonesia cut off a part of their fingers every time a loved one passes away. So much for the emotional grievance, but they believed amputating one’s fingers is a way of displaying their mourning for the dead. Along with this, they smear their faces with ashes as symbol of sorrow.
This practice is only specific to the female population of the tribe. It is based on the idea that cutting off their fingers would prevent the spirit from lingering in the village and would drive them away. Fingers were first tied with a string for about thirty minutes, until it gets numb, and then cut out. The tipped off part will be let to dry out until it could be burned and buried someplace.
#6 Kanamara Matsuri in Japan
The Shinto Kanamara Matsuri, or the Festival of the Steel Phallus, is held during the first Sunday of April at the Kanamara Shrine in Kawasaki, Japan. The legend holds that a jealous demon with sharp teeth hid inside a vagina of a woman the demon fell in love with. It bit off penises of two young men on their wedding nights. The woman sought for help, and then a blacksmith made a metal phallus which caused to break the demon’s teeth.
As bizarre as it may sound, it is believed to bring abundance and fertility to people in the community. Parents even let their children watch and eat penis-shaped candies on the day of the festival. The Kanayama Shrine is also believed to be popular among prostitutes praying for protection against sexually transmitted infections.
#7 Funerary Rituals of the Eskimo
Although already very seldom practiced, it is known that the eskimos send off their elders facing death adrift a floating iceberg. The eskimos have a hard time fending off the needs for themselves and their families, so each member would have to work for the welfare of the whole group. Each member has their own tasks to fulfill. They believed in the afterlife, and sending off their dying loved ones due to sickness or old age is also a means of sending them off to their next life instead of having to bring grievance and burden to the family. In this way, the elders’ image could be preserved, leaving the minds of the living untainted. It is a means for their graceful exit and a way of opening the doors for them to their next life.