Every religion has ceremonies, rituals practices that include birth marriage, the transition to childhood and death. Many of which may sound unusual to non-practitioners. While some rituals can involve something as simple as a silent individual prayer, others especially those involving a larger group can be extremely painful and violent. Here are some bizarre cultural rituals from around the world.
Let’s Take A Look At 7 Bizarre Cultural Rituals from Around the World
The ‘Aghori Babas’ who live in the city of Varanasi in India are famous for eating the dead. They believe that the greatest fear among human beings is a fear of their own deaths and this fear is a barrier to spiritual enlightenment. So by confronting it, one can achieve enlightenment. There are five types of people who cannot be cremated according to Hinduism. Holy man, children, pregnant or unmarried women and people who have died of leprosy or snake bites, these people are set afloat down the Ganges where the Aghoris pulled them from the water and ritually consumed them.
2. The Sun Dance
Native Americans are known to perform numerous rituals in honor of the earth’s spirits. The ritual is praying to the great spirits and sacrificing oneself while retaining a direct contact with the tree of life. The skin on the chest of the participants is pierced with hooks and a rope connects them to a pole. The pole represents the tree of life. The participants then move back and forth to try and become free from the rope which is still lodged in the skin. The dance may take several hours before it’s completed and it’s extremely painful.
Followers of the Shia community from Islam carry out the ritual of mass self-flagellation every year during the holy month of Muharram. They perform this ritual in the memory of the martyrdom of Hussein, the grandson of the Prophet Muhammad. There is a gruesome display where the men whip their bodies with blades attached to chains. In their state of religious shrines, they apparently do not feel the pain.
4. Spiritual Possession
Vodoun is a religion in parts of West Africa. One of its rituals involves making someone into a kind of vessel or medium. The person in question is taken into the forest in order to connect with the earth spirit. The spirit overcomes the body of the person and the person becomes unconscious. They remain in the state for three days without food or water until finally, they are brought back to consciousness after another set of rituals.
5. Fire Walking.
The nine emperor Gods festival is a tale celebration carried out in Penang, Malaysia. One other purification rituals involve walking barefoot on burning fire. It is believed to overcome in purity and repel all the evil influences. So, walking over the fire signifies a man’s strength and his resolve to free himself from evil. Hundreds of devotees walk over the fire sometimes carrying with himself a brave display.
6. Dancing With The Dead
Famadihana, meaning the turning of the bones, is a traditional festival which takes place in Madagascar. The participants believe that the faster the body decomposes, the faster the spirit reaches the afterlife. They, therefore, dig up their loved ones and dance with their corpses to light music around the tomb and then rebury them. This bizarre ritual is carried out every two to seven years.
A tribe in Papua, New Guinea, practices a bloody body modification ritual that is intended to strengthen the spiritual connection between them and their environment. One of these ritual ceremonies is carried out in the spirit house. Sharp pieces of bamboo are used to carve patterns resemble the skin of a crocodile. This results in immense pain on the body. The rituals are based on the fact that crocodiles are the creators of humans.