When a Tonga king dies, the royal undertakers are not allowed to use their hands for 100 days afterwards.
Does that sound a bit strange? Well it’s a pretty big step up from the older practice of severing the undertakers’ hands. They are known as nima tapu, which means “sacred hands.” For three months after burying the kind, they are kept in a special house where they are hand fed by others.
After that point, they can go home and resume using their hands. As you might have guessed, the reason they can’t use their hands is because they touched the king’s body during the funeral. While it might sound crazy, 300 years ago the undertakers were often strangled.
For those who don’t know, the Kingdom of Tonga is a series of 176 islands across 270,000 square miles in the South Pacific Ocean. Of those 176, 52 are inhabited. In recent years, Tonga has been reforming to a constitutional monarchy with a democratically elected Prime Minister.