The 5 Creepiest Death Rituals From Around the World (Part 2)

#2. Taiwanese Funerals Have Professional Mourners


The only thing sadder than a funeral is a funeral where no mourners show up -- either nobody comes or those who do aren't sorry to see the asshole go. None of us like to imagine our final goodbye happening in front of six bored people checking their text messages. Well, in Taiwan they have solved this problem in a way that is either batshit insane or so obvious we can't believe we didn't think of it -- there you can just hire some professional mourners to set the atmosphere.

Lee Seok Hwai/Straits Times
The hardest part of the job is seeing the giant paycheck and still staying depressed.

The job of a professional mourner is exactly what the name suggests: They take part in funerals and bawl their eyes out in sadness for the deceased that, in reality, they have probably never met before. Mostly, a pro mourner is called to fill in for family members who, for whatever reason, don't want to publicly weep and despair but still want people to know (or think) that everybody is sad.

Laura Fetherstonhaugh
"Every moment I spent with [INSERT NAME HERE] was the greatest moment of my life.
I shall miss [INSERT NAME HERE] terribly."

There's also a premium package available, where the mourner can actually take the center stage and deliver heartrending speeches that really make the onlookers believe that it's them who've lost a family member (though the professional PA system they whip out for this presumably gives them away).

Attempted suicide in order to reunite with the dearly departed will run you an extra $50.

Of course, in reality everyone's in on the joke. Mourning for cash is an ancient and fairly respected, although controversial, profession. The practice originated when family members of the deceased were working far away and thus unable to make it in time for the funeral. In their stead, the other relatives would hire a "filial daughter" (mourners are generally female) to take care of all the wailing and crying. In modern times, however, mourners are mostly a status symbol for the families. And really, how could they not be? What neighbor wouldn't turn green with envy when they realized you're willing to pay strangers money to scream at your mom's funeral?

#1. The Dani People Cut Off Their Fingers to Honor the Dead

Ulet Ifansasti/Getty Images News/Getty Images

Everyone has their own ways of mourning. Some lose their spouses and wear black for the rest of their lives. Others quickly get the cremation out of the way so they can jump in the trenches and resume the Great War of the Inheritance against the rest of the relatives. And then there are the ladies of the Dani tribe of Papua New Guinea who, whenever a family member dies, just flat-out start hacking off fingers.
Even the Yakuza's like, "Damn girl, you hardcore."

Yes, whenever a Dani passes away, the women of the family (adults and children alike) are traditionally expected to cut off a part of their fingers as a sacrificial gift to the deceased's potentially pissed-off spirit. Being a ritual, this isn't just your average vodka-and-machete amputation job, either. First, the expendable digit is tied off with string. They wait 30 minutes so the blood flow is cut and the digit goes numb. Then, a male relative takes a small stone blade specifically designed for this task, sharply bangs the lady's elbow on a stone to numb the arm ... and thunk!

Ulet Ifansasti/Getty Images News/Getty Images
Their grandma had neither string nor stone -- just teeth and a nearby thorn bush. Kids today are pussies.

Off to a bandage of healing herbs goes the bleeding hand, off to dry out goes the freshly cut digit. Once completely dry, it will be ceremonially burned to honor the dead, and its ashes will be stored in a special place.

As one might assume, this brutal custom of grieving can get pretty damned hard on the women, especially once the bodies start really piling up. See, the Dani men traditionally have a serious Spartan streak; they're a warrior culture with a history of fighting other tribes pretty much nonstop and, as such, dropping like goddamn flies. Luckily for the ladies, the practice is strictly outlawed these days ... though you can still find Dani women with eerily missing fingers.
"As long as they let me keep one fuck-you finger, I'm good."

Himanshu can be found pretending to know things he doesn't on Twitter.

Related Reading: Don't try to settle yourself just yet, because we have more death rituals for you. And after that, see what culture's women file their teeth into points as a rite of passage.

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