Bone Picking: A Ritual of Love

Death is something that most of us tiptoe around. And most of us have little knowledge of funerary customs till we have to experience it ourselves. Bone picking is one of those customs that is slowly creeping into our awareness. What exactly is bone picking? Why haven’t we heard of it before? Well, the simple reason is because cremation is pretty much a modern practice in most cultures. In some East Asian cultures cremation was once considered an unfilial practice and even banned. However, with rapid urbanization in the 20th century, space constraints have made cremation the predominant practice in many countries. And bone picking is a funerary rite that developed out of the practical necessity of transferring the fire purified bones to a funerary urn for safekeeping. The Japanese bone picking rite is more elaborate, involving the passing of bones between close family members using ceremonial chopsticks before placing them in the urn. The Chinese rite is simpler, but both have this in common, the bones have to be placed in a certain order, beginning with the feet and ending with the skull, so that the departed will be the right way up in the urn. Bone picking is a labour of love, a poignant gesture we perform to express our longing for our loved one and bidding our final farewell, lovingly arranging their remains in our chosen urn. Watch our video below — Eddy gives us a tutorial on the various bones and guides us as we perform the bone picking ceremony for a rescue kitty.

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