Can one marry a ghost? Can one marry a dead person? Can one seduce a ghost? Strange, almost bizarre questions, yet the answers which constitute a fascinating “yes” are even stranger. But can one legally marry a ghost? Can one legally marry a dead person? The answer is a surprising “yes” again.  Sample this, for instance : very recently, Newsweek carried the story of a 45-year-old woman named Amanda Teague who married a 300 year-old-ghost of a  Haitian pirate. Teague describes their chemistry as “incredible” and says that Jack is “the best sex she’s ever had”. Speaking to Newsweek, Teague said, “We sailed into international waters so we could legally marry. It’s not legal in the UK or Ireland to marry a deceased person, so we spoke to some lawyers and did it officially.” Teague says she is the first person in the UK and Ireland to legally marry a ghost. Teague claims to have met Jack as a ghost. Teague says she doesn’t even know what Jack looks or sounds like. The couple communicates with each other through mediumship.

According to Newsweek and several other media stories, publications, books, and studies, ghost relationships and marriages are not uncommon. Amethyst Realm, a 27-year-old spiritual guidance counselor from Bristol, UK, told the local paper about her sexual ectoplasmic encounters with 20 different ghosts. During an appearance on ITV’s This Morning, she described to viewers her ritual to seduce ghosts, which involved wearing sexy lingerie.

However, as Shlomit Glaser, a family lawyer at UK’s Glaser Jones Law explained, marrying a ghost and marrying a dead person are two different things. Marrying a dead person or posthumous marriage is also known as necrogamy. In some countries it is legal and in some societies it is an established practice. In France, for example it is legal to marry a deceased person and several  posthumous weddings take place annually. Last year France also witnessed the world’s first same-sex posthumous marriage.  The question arises: why would anyone want to marry a ghost or a deceased person or seduce a ghost? There seem to be many different purposes with most stemming from love or emotion , family practices, societal expectations, cultural history. Some women choose to enter a ghost marriage as a means of allowing themselves to remain unmarried to anyone alive. According to Wikipedia, in Chinese tradition, a ghost marriage,  known as “minghun” or  “spirit marriage” is a marriage in which one or both parties are deceased.

 “Ghost marriage” is the practice of marrying two corpses in an effort to keep them from being lonely in the afterlife, NBC News reported. It is believed that if a person dies unmarried, they will be alone in the afterlife and haunt still-living family members. And although made illegal in China in 1949, ghost marriages have been making a comeback recently as China’s economy has improved, according to ABC News. 

In China, India, Africa, Japan and Indonesia, ghost marriages are also often set up by request of the spirit of the deceased. Marjorie Topley, in Ghost Marriages Among the Singapore Chinese: A Further Note, relates the story of one 14-year-old Cantonese boy who died. A month later he appeared to his mother in a dream saying that he wished to marry a girl who had recently died in Ipoh, Perak. The son did not reveal her name; his mother used a Cantonese spirit medium and “through her the boy gave the name of the girl together with her place of birth and age, and details of her horoscope which were subsequently found to be compatible with his.”

In recent years, China’s centuries old ghost weddings seem to have become truly deadly. In 2016, for example, the BBC reported that police in north-west China charged a man with murdering two women with mental disabilities, alleging that he wanted to sell their corpses to be used in so-called “ghost weddings”. According to Huang Jingchun, the head of the Chinese department at Shanghai University who carried out a field study on ghost weddings in Shanxi between 2008 and 2010, the price of a corpse or the bones of a young woman has risen sharply. At the time of his research such remains would fetch around 30,000 to 50,000 yuan.   World-wide, ghost marriages and ghostly seduction have featured in numerous  books, TV serials and movies apart from being the subject of scholarly study. In ‘Corpse Brides and Ghost Grooms: A Guide to Marrying the Dead’, Ella Morton provides an “overview of how to tie the knot with someone who isn’t quite alive.” A part of the plot in the 2017 Israeli film ‘Longing’ revolves around the attempt to arrange a ghost marriage between the dead teenage children of two families. In  ‘The Girl Who Married a Ghost’, a rich and powerful chief chases away the local men who pursue his beautiful daughter, so a handsome shaman transforms himself into a spirit and tricks the girl into running away with him. In India, in her 2017 film,  ‘Phillauri’, Anushka Sharma plays a ghost married to Suraj Sharma.

In India, perhaps the most dramatic posthumous marriage took place in 1999 when, in what was perhaps the first “marriage” ever to be solemnised at a cremation ground, Romesh Sharma, serving time in Delhi’s Tihar Jail on a host of charges, including his alleged links with underworld don Dawood Ibrahim but out on parole, “married” the dead Kunjum Budhiraja, murdered in a plush south Delhi farmhouse.

Neither posthumous nor ghost marriages find mention amongst the ancient Smriti’s eight forms of marriage or the three most common ones in India today. However, though not sanctioned by law, posthumous marriages are still held in different parts of India. Several communities in Kerala’s Kasaragod district, especially in villages bordering Karnataka and particularly Koppalas and Mavilas continue to practice a custom called “pretha kalyanam” or marriage of ghosts. It is believed that such marriages honour those who died young and unmarried and give peace to their souls. Such ghost marriages are solemnised only if both the families agree and also only if horoscopes match. With posthumous and ghost marriages and even ghost seduction so much in the news, can one dismiss them, as non-believers tend to do, as “bunkum”, “blind belief”, “superstition” and so on? The problem here is that backed as they are by countless centuries, prevalent as they still are in this information rich age across countries and communities and practiced as they often are by highly educated and “aware” individuals, it is difficult to dismiss them under any heading.


One Reply to “A bizarre ritual to honour the dead”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *