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Different Death Cultural Beliefs and Rituals and impact on health care practitioners.

Different Death Cultural Beliefs and Rituals


Some communities in the world practice dangerous, health endangering practices to honor their dead. Some practices are so serious they could end up killing the whole community. In honor of the dead some community used to and some still do horrifying mind boggling things which include endo-cannibalism and sati which endanger the lives of the performers. This essay will show 10 culture’s death rituals and explain how the rituals impact health care practitioners.

  1. Endo-cannibalism

This is the act of eating the human flesh of a person from the same community, social group or tribe after they were dead. The dead bodies are eaten to “return the life force”. It is mostly practiced in New Papua Guinea, the Wari people of Brazil and also the Yanomano Indians of south Venezuela (Cain & Mark, 2001). Although the Yanomano’s culture is slightly different, they eat the crushed bones of the dead, and the flesh is not consumed, it is still considered as endo-cannibalism. The yanomami’s believe that they eat your ash to save your soul (Dr. Frank, 2011).

  1. Sati

It is a funeral ritual in which a widowed woman immolates herself on the dead husband’s pyre among the Asians. The ritual was basically the widowed woman killing herself as sacrifice. It was done voluntarily although is some areas women were forced to do so to prevent them from killing their rich husbands (Cain & Mark, 2001).

  1. Sky burials

It was practiced by the Tibetan Buddhists. The dead would be sliced in small pieces and offered to animals or given whole to vultures. The Buddhist saw no need to preserve a dead body that to them seemed like an empty vessel (Ken, 2010). To them using their remains to sustain the life of another creature was and still is an act of compassion. 80% of Buddhists still practice the culture even today (Dr. Frank, 2011).

  1. Finger amputation

The ritual finger amputation was done my every female relative and children of the deceased by the Dani people. It was done to gratify the spirits as well as to use physical pain to express sorrow and loss. To amputate the finger, it was tied with a piece of string and then cut off with an axe and the cut off part was burnt and the ashes kept in a special place (Dr. Frank, 2011).

  1. Baha’i

They require their dead to be buried an hour’s travel from the place of death. The body is washed and the diseased wears a burial ring. They have no death rituals except for the prayer songs (Cain & Mark, 2001).

  1. Turning of bones

Performed in Madagascar, the mourners dig up their dead cover them in new clothes then dance and sing with the corpse around the tomb (Cain & Mark, 2001).

  1. The ifugao

The ifugao people of Benguet, philistines let their dead “stick” around for eight days. The deceased relatives prop up a chair in front of the house and the deceased sits there for eight days. The arms and legs are tied to keep the corpse in position and the eyes closed so they don’t witness the suffering of the world (Cain & Mark, 2001).

  1. Drinking the corpses water

In Nigeria, if a man died and the relatives suspected the wife to have murdered him, they would lock the woman and the corpse in the same room for several nights and then wash the corpse and force the woman to drink the water. The dead would be buried with a broom so he could revenge on those who killed him (Friberg, 2000).

  1. Viking funeral rituals.

When a Viking noble man died a female slave would volunteer to join him. She would be guided day and night and given intoxicating drinks. When the cremation ceremony was started the girl would go tent to tent having sex with all the men in the village (Ken, 2010). While a man would be having sex with her he would say “tell your master I did this because I love him”. She would then return to a tent where she would have sex with 6 Vikings, be strangled to death then stubbed by the village matriarch (Dr. Frank, 2011).

  1. Buddhist self-mummification

A Buddhist priest would eat nuts and seeds for 1,000 days and then drink poisonous tea for another 1,000 days: the bark of the tree in the tea would protect his gut from maggots. After the 1,000 days, the priest set himself in a room and waits for death. 1000 days later they would open the room and if the mummification had worked the priest would be honored as a Buddha and there would be a ceremony (Dr. Frank, 2011).

Impact of these rituals on health care providers

  • It becomes hard to contain some diseases like STI In cases where one person has sex with many people and the kuru disease caused by eating of human flesh.
  • Diseases like rabbis too become hard to manage because they can spread from infected flesh when eaten
  • It becomes strainous for health care providers to help people with third degree burns from sati
  • Convincing the people that starving to death is a form of suicide
  • It is also difficult for health care providers to provide the required health care to the people.


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