In the last blog I spoke about a few funeral customs that are a tad different to our traditional memorial in a church, burial with Gravestones and then wake to follow.
In some cultures men and women are treated entirely differently when it comes to what happens when they die. The Bongas buried men with their faces to the North whilst women faced the South. The Ghonds buried their women but cremated their men and the Cochieans buried their women and suspended their men from trees.
Before 1829 in Hindu India, a widow was considered useless without her husband so was expected to lie next to him and be cremated alive. The ritual known as Sati was believed to give the woman a free passage to heaven and purify her. It was abolished, however even as late as 1981; a recorded Sati occurred with an 18 year old widow.
The Greek historian Herodotus claimed that the Calatians ate their own dead believing it to be a sacred duty of the family. Queen Artemisia is said to have even mixed the ashes of her lover with wine and drunk it.
Fantasy coffins are becoming increasingly popular in Ghana. Coffins are being carved into everything from airplanes to motor cars, cigarettes to bottles of beer. I wonder what they would do to headstones given half a chance.
Closer to home, in the Scottish highlands the deceased would be buried with a little salt and soil which would be placed on their chest. The soil was symbolic of the body decaying and becoming one with earth whilst the salt represented the soul which never decays or dies.