Dead Rituals

Written by Alana Jolley

March 4, 2015

Dead Rituals

We know death is universal; so also are Dead Rituals.  All cultures have specific practices relating to the dead and Dead Rituals.  No need for science; humans have always understood that sanitation and public health depends upon proper disposal of dead bodies. Soft tissues decompose rapidly, which causes odors and invites scavengers.  Yet, bones may be preserved for thousands of years depending upon their surrounding environment or the method of burial.

Dead Rituals are usually dominated by a respectful nature towards the dead person or persons.  Respect for the dead and often dead ancestors is part of the spiritual dimension of the culture in which the rituals regarding the dead are practiced.  The modern world may be governed by both spiritual and legal laws, or rules, for disposing of the dead, especially in times of war, natural disasters, or disease epidemics.

 David Russell ChristoffAn American Military Funeral Ritual

An article by author, Stephen Liddell gives further information about Plague Pits, or pits where people who died the Black Death in Europe were buried in mass graves.

Interesting cultural practices of the Tana Toraja are often labeled “bizarre.”  Who are we to call a cultural practice bizarre?  Whose logic calls it bizarre?  Living in our globalized world gives us the opportunity to welcome others with different ways of doing things.  Our way or the highway may be considered by others to be bizarre.  The purpose of this website is to introduce visitors and students to cultural practices, which are relatively unknown, and less understood.  We do not need to condone others’ cultural processes.  Consider trying to gain a measure of understanding of the Dead Rituals of the Tana Toraja as you read the following article and watch the following film.

Tana Toraja documentary by anthropologist, Kelli Swazey follows:  You may need to copy (Control C) and paste (Control V) the link into your browser.

In the technologically and environmentally concerned world, new methods of disposing the dead are being examined.  For those who feel a spiritual obligation to their dead, such methods are controversial.  However, Ms. Swazey may have a point when she proposes we should, “revaluate our notions of knowledge, education, and development.”  Traditional cultures around the world may be faced eventually with their cultural practices of Dead Rituals being challenged. Dead Rituals bind people and cultures together and may not be so easily changed.  The following NBC news article gives us a definitive look at futuristic practices with regards to disposing of our dead.

Explore More! in Cultural Anthropology and discover new and unusual cultural practices of people who live in the Global Villages of the world.

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