Twisted – – Just a little


DSC07631

Bored on a Saturday afternoon?  What do you think of doing?  I’m sure the first thing you thought of was NOT to go watch a cremation..in a stadium setting..surrounded by hundreds of people you don’t really know. Or maybe that is the first thing you thought of….

DSC02491

During my first visit to Pashupati, I was amazed at the colors, the sounds and the smell of the area.  Pashupati is a Hindu temple on the banks of the Bagmati River.  Every day families can be found with their deceased to this edge of the river here to be cremated.  It is my understanding that after the cremation, the ashes are buried nearby the temple area.

DSC02495

Many westerners however, visit simply to witness the open air cremation ceremony. During my first visit, every area available was being used.  This past weekend I had a guest in town and we decided to visit the area.  There is a part of me that felt it was a little disrespectful to watch people cremate their family members but it is such an interesting cultural experience.  Only Hindus are allowed in the temple area so you are really watching from across the river and are not interfering with the process.

DSC02486

People who have money are able to hold their ceremony in a very central spot right on the water.  There appears to be only one cremation at a time happening in this area.  The ceremony is well attended and the body is strewn with beautiful flowers.

People without money are cremated in a more crowded area with similar fanfare but a little less grand in style.

We stood on the opposite banks for some time watching the process as well as watching the people who were watching the process.

This was not the first cremation I had seen in Nepal.  When I first arrived, circumstances brought me very close to a cremation in a very different location.  It was interesting how all of life went on around the cremation area.  There was a woman washing her laundry in a doorway behind me while children played ball and animals ate grass very near the cremation site.  When the body was placed on the stand and wood and flower were placed on the body, the children stopped playing ball for just a minute and stood about 4 feet from the body.  They watched the process for about five minutes and then went back to playing ball.  It was amazing and interesting how death played a role in their every day lives and how close this culture is to death in comparison to my own.  It was odd and comforting all at the same time. It was very natural.

Every culture around the world has their own way of dealing with death.  One is not better than the other and it’s all what you grew up with.  Still it is very interesting to me.  A few more way for you to think about.

10 Bizarre Death Rituals from Around the World

10 Bizarre Death Rituals from Around the World

The way we grieve, commemorate, and dispose of our dead varies greatly from culture to culture, but some traditions really take funerals to the next level of macabre. Here are 10 of the most bizarre death rituals the world has ever known.

1. Endocannibalism

10 Bizarre Death Rituals from Around the World

For some cultures, the best way to honor the dead is by eating them. Referred to as “endocannibalism” by stuffy anthropologists, these “feasts of the dead” are a way to forge a permanent connection between the living and the recently deceased. It’s also a cathartic way to express the loathing and fear associated with death and its tragic aftermath. Some anthropologists have suggested that endocannibalism is something the dead would have expected from the living — a final gesture of goodwill to the tribe and family. Though no longer practiced (at least not that we know of), cultures who engaged in endocannibalism included the Melanesians of Papua New Guinea and the Wari people of Brazil.

2. Tibetan Buddhist Celestial Burials

10 Bizarre Death Rituals from Around the World

But why nourish yourself with the flesh of the recently deceased when you can use it to feed wild animals? Such is the thinking of Tibetan Buddhists practice ritual dissection, or “Sky Burials” — the tradition of chopping up the dead into small pieces and giving the remains to animals, particularly birds. Sometimes the body is left intact — which is not a problem for advantageous vultures. While this may seem undignified and even a bit disgusting, the ritual makes complete sense from a Buddhist perspective. Buddhists have no desire to preserve or commemorate a dead body, something that is seen as an empty vessel. Moreover, in tune with their respect for all life, Buddhists see it as only fitting that one’s final act (even if committed in proxy) is to have their remains used to sustain the life of another living creature; and in fact, the ritual is seen as a gesture of compassion and charity. Today,over 80% of Tibetan Buddhists choose sky burial, a ritual that has been observed for thousands of years.

3. Suspended Burials

10 Bizarre Death Rituals from Around the World

The mysterious Bo people of the Hemp Pond Valley in Southwest China’s Gongxian County flourished for millennia before they were massacred by the Ming Dynasty over five centuries ago. Today, the Bo are almost completely forgotten, save for the dramatic hanging coffins they have left behind — a haunting array of wooden caskets that extend from the rock face to a height of almost 300 feet. Located just above the Crab Stream, the 160 coffins were placed along the cliffs and within natural caves, with some resting on wooden posts that extend out from the cliffside. The precipice itself features many murals that are painted with bright cinnabar red colors, many of which depict the lives of the Bo people. Today, the locals refer to the long-lost civilization by such names as “Sons of the Cliffs” and “Subjugators of the Sky.” But why they interred their dead in this way remains a complete mystery.

4. Sati

10 Bizarre Death Rituals from Around the World

Though now (mercifully) banned in India, Sati was a funerary practice in whichrecently widowed women immolated themselves on their husband’s funeral pyre. The custom was seen as a voluntary act, but there were many instances in which women were forced to commit Sati — sometimes even dragged against their will to the fire. No one is certain how the ritual got started, but one suggestion is that it was introduced to prevent wives from killing their wealthy husbands (typically with poison) and marry their real lovers. Another possibility is that it was seen as a way for a husband and wife to enter into the afterlife together so that they could thwart opportunistic female angels. Interestingly, India was not the first and only culture to adopt the tradition. Other ancient societies that practiced something similar to Sati included the Egyptians, Greeks, Goths, and Scythians.

5. The Viking Funeral

10 Bizarre Death Rituals from Around the World

Hindi women clearly had it tough — but so did the slave girls of Viking noblemen. According to the historic account of Ahmad ibn Fadlan, a 10th century Arab Muslim writer, the ritual following the death of a chieftain was exceptionally brutal. Once dead, a chieftain’s body was put into a temporary grave for ten days while new clothes were being prepared for him. During this time, one of his slave girls would “volunteer” to join him in the afterlife; she was then guarded day and night and given copious amounts of intoxicating drinks. Once the cremation ceremony got started, the girl went from tent to tent to have sex with every man in the village. As the men were having sex with her — or what today we woud call “rape” — they would say, “Tell your master that I did this because of my love for him.” Following this, the girl was taken to a tent where she had sex with six Viking men, was strangled to death with rope, and finally stabbed by a village matriarch. And for the coup de grace, the bodies of the chieftain and slave girl were place onboard a wooden ship that was set alight. The Vikings did this to ensure that the slave girl would serve her master in the afterlife, while the sexual rites were a way to transform the chieftain’s life force.

6. Ritual Finger Amputation

10 Bizarre Death Rituals from Around the World

As if the death of a loved one wasn’t traumatic enough, the Dani people of West Papua, New Guinea also had to cut off their own fingers. This seemingly severe and incomprehensible ritual applied to any woman related to the deceased, as well as any children. The practice was done to both gratify and drive away the spirits, while also providing a way to use physical pain as an expression of sorrow and suffering. To perform the amputation, fingers were tied tightly with string and then cut off with an axe. The leftover piece was then dried and burned to ashes or stored in a special place. The ritual is now banned in New Guinea, but (as this image shows) the effects of the practice can still be seen in some of the older members of the community.

7. Famadihana

10 Bizarre Death Rituals from Around the World

The Malagasy people of Madagascar have clearly never heard the phrase, “Rest in peace.” In an effort to hasten decomposition — what’s seen as an crucial step in the ongoing process of getting the spirits of the dead into the afterlife — the Malagasy dig up the remains of their relatives and rewrap them in fresh cloth. Afterward, the Malagasy then dance with the corpses around the tomb to live music. Called Famadihana, or “Turning of the Bones,” the ritual has been around for three centuries — one that the local Christian churches are doing their best to stamp out.

8. Mortuary Totem Poles

10 Bizarre Death Rituals from Around the World

Totem poles are a fixture of the American Northwest and the Haida people, but there’s more to these icons than meets the eye. Normally, the remains of a deceased Haida were thrown into a mass pit where they were scavenged by animals. But the series of events following the death of a chief, shaman, or warrior were considerably more intricate. In those cases, the body would be crushed to a pulp with clubs so that it could fit into a small wooden box the size of a suitcase. Following that, the box would be placed atop a special mortuary totem pole in front of the deceased’s longhouse where the icons acted as guardians for the spirits’ journey to the afterlife. Visiting missionaries were often taken aback by the practice, mostly on account of the lingering smell.

9. Australian Aboriginal Mortuary Rites

The best part of an Aboriginal death ritual is that family members get to keep a souvenir afterward — namely the bones of the deceased. Following the demise of a family member, the body was placed atop a raised platform and covered with leaves and branches where it was left to decompose — a process that often took months. In some cases, the liquid from the decaying corpse was collected and rubbed over the bodies of young men to pass on the good qualities of the deceased person. After, the bones were retrieved and painted with red ochre. The bones were then either placed in cave or inside a hollowed out log. And in some cases they would be worn by relatives for up to a year. Some tribes also refused to utter the name of the deceased and completely disregarded any property they left behind. The entire ritual was way to ensure that the ego component of the deceased’s spirit didn’t get too comfortable hanging out with the living.

10. The Zoroastrian Funeral

Zoroastrians have a thing with dead bodies, what they see as something that defiles everything it touches, whether it be the ground, clothes, people — and even fire. The funeral gets off to a rousing start by having the corpse cleansed in unconsecrated bull’s urine (which can only be done by a specially trained member of the community). Once “clean,” the corpse is laid in linen and visited twice by the “Sagdid” — a dog that can cast away evil spirits. After mourners visit the corpse (touching is strictly forbidden), it is placed on top of the Dhakma, or “Tower of Silence,” where the Zoroastrians remove the clothes using tools (the clothes are later disposed of as they’ve been defiled). Following this, the body is quickly devoured by vultures. The entire ritual is done in this way to ensure the minimal amount of harm and injury to the living.

Just a random video I like to close off this post.

Other twisted posts.

  1. The Ambitious Drifter
  2. Points of view
  3. Broken Light
  4. Bumblepuppies
  5. Life in the Foothills
  6. About one thing
  7. Ohm Sweet Ohm
  8. Snow Partridge
  9. Steve Says
  10. Roland’s Photo Blog
  11. Arresting Imagery
  12. Tish Farrell
  13. Freddy’s Photo Project
  14. Canadian Travel Bugs
  15. Writing Between the lines

 

 

Easy to catch a silhouette


Shadow is the obstruction of light. Shadows appear to me to be of supreme importance in perspective, because, without them opaque and solid bodies will be ill defined; that which is contained within their outlines and their boundaries themselves will be ill-understood unless they are shown against a background of a different tone from themselves.

Leonardo da Vinci

DSC02324

“Actually, I do happen to resemble a hallucination. Kindly note my silhouette in the moonlight.” The cat climbed into the shaft of moonlight and wanted to keep talking but was asked to be quiet. “Very well, I shall be silent,” he replied, “I shall be a silent hallucination.”
― Mikhail BulgakovThe Master and Margarita

Fishing silhouette in Curacao

Fishing silhouette in Curacao

Statute in Peru with bird on head.

Statute in Peru with bird on head.

This week, experiment with light and capture a silhouette.

More shadow shots

  1. Wake up your luck
  2. BmyShot
  3. In a Snap
  4. Etcetera Etcetera
  5. Ron Mayhew’s Blog
  6. My Aberdeen Garden
  7. My own Champion
  8. Follow Your nose
  9. Allison’s adventures in Wanderland
  10. Shoot N Go

Dance as an expression


DSC02398

While taking some guests through different areas of Kathmandu we got split up while touring through Patan Durbar Square.  We had agreed that if  we did lose each other on this visit we would meet up in the main entrance of the square.  Of course we got separated.  As I wound my way through the back roads I ran into this two person dance team.  What a treat.  I hope you enjoy.

Dance is the hidden language

of the soul

of the body. ~~Martha Graham

The dance can reveal everything mysterious that is hidden in music, and it has the additional merit of being human and palpable. Dancing is poetry with arms and legs.  ~~Charles Baudelaire

Other posts that represent dance from Where’s your Backpack’s weekly travel theme:  Dance and Daily Post Theme : Moved by Music

  1. Miami Vice: Definitely Miami and ‘Cry’ | It Rains… You Get Wet
  2. dance | photo theme hop
  3. Kicking up your heels. | Chronicles of Illusions
  4. Wake Me Up | Stacy’s Flutterings
  5. Travel theme: Dance | So where’s the snow?
  6. WWC: Moved by Music | Under the Monkey Tree
  7. Travel Theme: Dance | LoganBruin–An Unauthorized Autobiography
  8. Driving Through a Hurricane | Mary J Melange
  9. Travel Theme: Dance | Its In The Picture – 365
  10. Moved by Music | The Urban Dr. Mom
  11. Travel theme: Dance | Figments of a DuTchess
  12. Weekly Travel theme: Dance « Leya
  13. moved by music | band of color
  14. Travel Theme: Dance | Wind Against Current
  15. Dancing with abandon in Sedona | Travel with Intent
  16. Travel Theme: Dancing | Canadiantravelbugs’s Blog
  17. Adolescence | K beezy is viral
  18. Ailsa’s Theme: Dance | Travel Monkey
  19. Travel Theme: Dance | Healthcare Updates
  20. Weekly Writing Challenge- Moved By music | sassy&classy
  21. Weekly Travel Theme: Dance | Northwest Frame of Mind
  22. 5-3-13 Travel Theme: Dance | The Quotidian Hudson
  23. sonic tonic | nanopod: hybrid studio
  24. Save the last dance for me | Le Drake Noir
  25. TRAVEL THEME – DANCE | Dear Bliary
  26. Travel Theme: Dance | A Gringos life in Cusco
  27. I Hope You Dance | The Retiring Sort
  28. Weekly Writing Challenge: Moonlight Serenade | Spiritual Biscuits
  29. Travel Theme: Dance | patriciaddrury
  30. travel theme: dance | whatever a moon has always meant
  31. Moved by Music Memories | Kansa Muse
  32. Travel Theme: Dance | Transplanted Tatar
  33. the power of inspiration | ramblings
  34. Travel theme: Dance | no step too loose
  35. Dance Three Ways | dadirridreaming
  36. Travel Theme: Dance | a hectic life
  37. Moved by Music: DPChallenge | Lead us from the Unreal to the Real
  38. Travel Theme: Dance | MythRider
  39. 5 Songs That Can Get You Through The Dark Days | dark circles, etc
  40. Travel theme: Dance | Stefano Scheda
  41. WWC: How I Have Been Moved By Music
  42. Travel Theme: Dance | Edge of the Forest
  43. Dream With Your Feet! | The Urge To Wander
  44. Travel Theme: Dance | Paths Unwritten
  45. Dance (Travel theme) | pdjpix
  46. TRAVEL THEME: DANCE | Francine In Retirement
  47. Travel Theme: Dance | Something for Pok
  48. Travel theme: DANCE of the FLOWERS | Serendipity 13
  49. Travel Theme: Dance | A shot of espresso.
  50. Travel Theme: Dance | American Gypsy Gibberish…
  51. Travel Theme: Dance | Postcards from
  52. Travel theme: Dance | Ain’t Mine No More
  53. Travel Theme: Dance | Pictures for Froghopper

I wanna be like u…


Monkeys are superior to men in this: when a monkey looks into a mirror, he sees a monkey. ~~Malcolm de Chazal

DSC02536

Dogs are my favorite pet. However, monkeys are my favorite animal.  There is something so whimsical, intelligent and just plain intimidating about them.  During a recent visit to Pashupati in Kathmandu, I could NOT stop taking photos of them.

Contrary to general belief, humans imitate apes more than the reverse. The sight of monkeys or apes induces an irresistible urge in people to jump up and down, exaggeratedly scratch themselves and holler in a way that must make the primates wonder how this otherwise so intelligent species has come to depend on such inferior means of communication. ~~Frans de Waal

So like humans and yet so different.

We are just an advanced breed of monkeys on a minor planet of a very average star. But we can understand the Universe. That makes us something very special.  ~~Stephen Hawking

I hope you enjoy these photos.

Other Animal’s in Blog though Cee’s Photo Challenge Animals

  1. Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge: Nature Animals | Edge of the Forest
  2. Living with my Ancestors
  3. Now at Home
  4. A Cat’s Artistic Endeavours
  5. Linsdoodles
  6. Conversations around the Tree
  7. Arl’s World
  8. Whimsical wildlife
  9. VMtranblog
  10. Duck in the tree
  11. SnowPartridge
  12. Leya
  13. Irina’s Poetry Corner
  14. Forlorn Furry Friends
  15. Nature Animals | ArtKorppi
  16. Animals | Compass Photography
  17. Animals | Across the Bored
  18. Alaskan Orca | Jaspa’s Journal
  19. Animals | Un paseo por Buenos Aires…
  20. Nature – birds | paintedwords
  21. Nature-Animals | WoollyMuses

I could not have expressed it better..


Beyond Paisley paid an amazing tribute to one of my favorite actors in her recent blog post, “I’m Still Processing The Death of Robin Williams.”  I feel exactly how she expressed her feelings but I do not think I could have said it better than she therefore I would like to share her post.  Thanks for expressing this so eloquently…

I’M STILL PROCESSING THE DEATH OF ROBIN WILLIAMS

The news this week, it was shocking. Shocking. Robin Williams. Dead at 63. I grew up on a steady diet of Robin Williams. I remember when he, bizarrely, showed up on Happy Days and had an epic thumb battle with The Fonz.

And I watched Mork & Mindy almost greedily every week, because–particularly in first two seasons–there was nothing quite so aggressively funny on TV.

My mom even got me a pair of rainbow suspenders, which I wore until the clips gave out and just stopped gripping. (And I’d think they were secure and would go out and then a clip would slide up until it reached the end of my waistband. Once it did, it would indeed fly, be free, right into my face. Oh, embarrassment on the playground fer sure.)

Like so many others out there, I loved Robin Williams for his energy and razor-sharp wit, his lightning-fast ability to find the joke, to make anything (a basket of eggs? Really?) hilarious. And I loved him for his ability to handle dramatic roles, too, bringing human complexity and an astonishing depth of emotion to a character that, in the hands of a different performer, could easily end up being too one-dimensional. I’m looking at you, Dead Poet’s Society.

He was brilliant. He was admired. And now he’s gone. If he’d died of a heart attack or was killed in a car accident…we have mental scripts in place to cope. But Robin Williams took his own life. He’d always been open about his long-standing struggles with depression, and also with substance abuse, so it was no secret that he had some malignant, tenacious demons. But still. In a society that views “success” as the answer–which he had, at least outwardly–Robin Williams’s suicide is inconceivable.

The commentary surrounding his death has been interesting. I have, for the most part, stayed away from anyone who’s completely vitriolic; I don’t need to read articles written by socially stunted hatemongers to know they exist.  But the one statement that I can’t stay away from, which I’ve seen expressed in various media outlets and have heard from people I know and love, is that his act was selfish. And I recognized myself in that statement; ten years ago I might have said the same thing. I have since moved past it, realizing that depression is far more pernicious and illogical and lying and thieving than those of us who aren’t depressed can understand. Still, I get why it’s part of the public patois about suicide. I just don’t think it’s right or fair. We’re never inside anyone else’s head. We don’t know what’s happening anywhere else except in our own noggins…and even then, if you find me someone who’s legitimately got it all together, I will pass out in shock. Mental illness is so dreadfully misunderstood. As a society, we need to bring the same sensibility to the treatment of depression that we bring to, say, the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis. Both can cripple. Both can kill. But you don’t tell an RA sufferer to “get over it”.

When I was a little kid–maybe 9 or 10 years old–I was at the beach and got caught in an undertow. I was pulled out in the waves, and slammed back on the beach, and pulled out, and slammed back. Over. And over. And over. I didn’t see a way out, there was no way to break the cycle of being sucked out into the water, and slammed back to the shore. Finally, something solid loomed up in front of me and in desperation I grabbed it; I remember breaking the grip of the waves, and how the waves felt resistant to my release. Luckily, the solid thing turned out to be the feet of a man doing surf fishing. It could have been a shark, it could have been an electrical box that was on fire, it could have been Jason Voorhees in full machete-and-hockey mask regalia. The point is, I didn’t care at that moment what I grabbed, so long as it got me out of the crazy cycle I was trapped in.

While I don’t claim that that’s what was going on in Robin Williams’s head, I will say that for that split second, for that one miniscule moment in time, I understood what it’s like to not care any more about what the exit looks like. Desperation isn’t selfish. It’s just desperate. We tend not to revisit these moments, since they’re usually unpleasant and force us to contemplate our own mortality. But I’d make the bet that if everyone took a good, long look at his or her past, we could all find at least one moment where logic and presence failed and desperation took over.

That’s a spot from which compassion can grow. I challenge everyone to find it.

Rest in peace, Robin Williams.

Need help? In the U.S., call 1-800-273-8255 – National Suicide Prevention Lifeline