From funny to glory, rituals from around the world could leave one shell-shocked. With innumerable races and ethnicities populating the face of the Earth, the rituals are in plenty and a list of the weird, wacky, unbelievable ones are compiled here. Take a look.
10. Air throw the baby
In India, a bizarre ritual is practiced among couples who are blessed with issues after vowing at the Sri Santeswar temple, near India in Karnataka. The custom involves throwing newborn babies off a 50 feet high temple and then catching them in a cloth, which is held below. The spine-chilling ritual has been celebrated over 500 years. Both Hindus and Muslims practice this strange ritual every year amid tight security.
9. Man enough boys?
For the Satere-Mawe tribe living in the Amazon, the ritual of initiation is rather dreadful. When a young boy attains the age of sexual maturity he goes out into the forest with the Medicine man of the tribe and other boys of his age to find and gather bullet ants. These ants are known to possess the most painful sting in the world. The sting from these vicious stingers has been compared to a bullet hitting through the flesh. The boys will collect ants, which are then drugged by the Medicine Man. Later, the drugged ants are placed in a woven mesh glove. Following the waking up of the ants from their drugged slumber, the boys must wear the gloves for about ten minutes and do a dance to take their mind off the pain. This has to be done twenty painful times before the boys can finally prove they are men.
8. Pins and needles
While celebrating the religious holiday Thaipusam, Hindus claim their devotion to the Indian God, Lord Murugan, by the uncanny piercing of various parts of their bodies. It is mainly observed in countries with a considerable population of Tamils, such as in India, Sri Lanka, Singapore, Mauritius, Malaysia, Thailand, and Myanmar. As legend has it, Lord Murugan killed Soorapadman, an evil vengeful spirit, by spearing through him. Hence, in Tamil Nadu, they do this with painful piercings all over the body, including through the tongue. Over time, the rituals have been modified into further dramatic, colorful, and gory events. Usage of larger spears and hooks through the chest and face and further pulling large wagons with ropes attached to the injured and bloody backs of the devotees are also followed.
7. Sail your way to paradise
Eskimos have been known to practice there now the rare ritual of setting the dying elderly adrift on a floating iceberg. With strong beliefs in the afterlife, this practice is a way to ensure the elderly are not a burden to the family and are sent off in a dignified way.
6. Ouch, wife ouch!
Though not exclusive to China, an interesting Chinese tradition maintains that a bride should be carried by the husband over a pan of smoldering coals before they together cross the threshold of their home. The ritual is said to ensure that the wife has an easy and successful labor. Fire-walking is also practiced by some populations in China as a means to prevent natural disasters.
5. The bloodshed for Hussein
In order to commemorate the death of Imam Hussein, at the 7th century battle of Karbala. Hussein was one of the grandsons of the Prophet Muhammad; Shiite Muslims carry out the event Ashura, which is recognized by many Muslims around the world for various other reasons as well. Hussein and his comrades were repeatedly struck with daggers to the head.
At Ashura, men join a procession to flagellate themselves with daggers to the head. This is the means to pay tribute and absolve sin of not being present at the moment to save Hussein.
4. Betray the bears
The Ainu people, of Japan and Russia, have a gruesome custom of sacrificing bears. The sacrifice is justified on religious grounds. It is believed that bears are forms of gods among humans, and the sacrifice of the bear blesses the soul of mankind.
However, it is a rather atrocious feat where, a hibernating mother bear is slaughtered in her cave. Her cubs are taken captive for two years, following which they are choked or speared through as an act of religious devotion. The villagers then drink the bears’ blood, devour the flesh, and place the skull atop a bearskin wrapped spear, which is to be worshiped by the people. Though rare, the ritual still continues to be followed.
3. The walking dead
The Toraja people of Indonesia are known to practice a ritual, exhuming the corpses of their fellow villagers and draping it in special garments. Following this, it is paraded around the village. The corpses of children or those deceased decades also are also not spared.
The main purpose of the ritual is to clean the corpses, their clothes and coffins, and ceremoniously returning them to their home village.
2. Human bone and banana soup
The Yanomami tribe inhabiting villages within the Amazon rainforest, close to the border of Venezuela and Brazil, are known for their age-old tradition of endocannibalism, which means consumption of the flesh of a deceased member of one’s own tribe. However, it is different from cannibalism.
In this ritual, the corpse is wrapped in leaves and left for insects to pick at it. After about 30 to 45 days, the bones are collected and pulverized. This is mixed into a banana soup that has to be consumed by all. After a year, the villagers consume the ashes of the deceased, mixing it with plantain soup. The ritual is believed to help ensure that the souls find their way to paradise.
1. Lady’s finger please
On account of a death in the family of a member of the Dani tribe of Indonesia, grief is expressed by cutting off a phalange of their fingers. Before amputation, the fingers are tied with a string for about half an hour to numb the sensation. Following this, the new fingertips are burnt for the formation of scar tissue.
This custom is performed in order to satisfy ancestral ghosts. Even though rarely, the tribe still sporadically practices this ritual.