Rituals are mere part of our culture and civilisation and are a feature of all known human societies especially the religious ones. But sometimes the process can be weird, gross and even barbaric too.

Here are some of the ancient rituals still practised in the modern world, which will leave you wide eyed and disgusted.

  1. Self Mummification or “Sokushinbutsu” (Japan)

As the name suggests, it’s an ancient ritual practised by the Buddhists monks of transforming oneself into a “mummy”. The monks believe that it is an act of further enlightenment rather than suicide.

Self mummification

It starts with a three year diet of nuts and seeds and tough physical exercise to get rid of all that body fat and then another three years of roots and tree bark and a tea made from the Urushi tree which is poisonous. After that, the monk would lock himself in a tomb which is sealed for eternity.

Indian archaeologists have discovered one self-mummified monk in a temple of Gue village, Spiti, in Himachal Pradesh.


  1. Putting make-up on dead relatives ( Mexico)

Mexico Putting make up on dead people

Though it sounds weird, Mexicans, in order to get over the grief of death of their loved ones, painted their faces in the finest quality of face paints. This ritual is based around the ancient city of Teotihuacan, north-east of Mexico City. It was a major cultural centre and a modern tourist attraction with its huge pyramids and temples.


  1. Eating Your Relatives (Venezuela)

Eating your relatives

Again a bizarre one, the Yanomamo people of Venezuela believe that the dead are taken by soul eaters who consume their life force. These soul eaters have an unquenchable hunger and if the chain isn’t stopped they will continue to eat and eat presumably until the whole world is dead. To stop this, the Yanomamo eat their dead.


  1. Put elderly out in the ice to die

Ice Float elderly

One of the strange stories about Eskimos is the ritual that they practise once one gets to face death and old age. The elderly Eskimos are taken out to the sea and set adrift on a floating iceberg. Alone on their iceberg, the elderly must inevitably freeze or starve to death.  Because the Eskimos believed that another world awaits their dead, they would be sending the elderly to move on to the afterlife with dignity, a way to gracefully exit without becoming a burden for the family.




  1. Female Genital Mutilation (Africa and ISIS)

The most barbaric act of modern times, the practice involves cutting a girl’s vagina to create a seal that narrows the opening, making it just wide enough to allow the passing of urine and menstrual blood. The surgery takes place wherever it is convenient, from out in the open to a bathroom floor and without medicines and little care for hygiene.