As society evolves, people have been coming up with peculiar yet fascinating and joyful cultural practices that unite them. While a number of them have gone defunct, some people are still executing the events as how their ancestors did. Think you have seen it all? These are some bizarre cultures that are still currently alive and active.
1) Funerals Are Certainly Not Goodbyes
While most of us cringe at the sight of corpses, the Toroja ethnic group that resides in the mountains of Sulawesi, Indonesia, react in different ways. Every 3 years during the Ma’nene festival calls for them to exhume the bodies of the deceased, often their loved ones. After the bodies are “back among the living”, family members clean and dress them up. They will later march the bodies back to their home villages. They believe these acts grant them blessings from the spirits. Also known as the Ceremony of Cleansing Corpse, this 100-year-old practice strengthens their bonds with the dead.
2) Ashes To Ashes
The Yanomami tribe, the indigenous people in the Amazon rainforest doesn’t believe that death is a natural occurrence. Instead, it’s the handiwork of an evil spirit. When their kinsmen die, they wrap the bodies in leaves for the insects to feast on the soft tissues. About 40 days later, they collect the bones for cremation purposes, followed by mixing the ashes with fermented banana soup. The practice is known as endocannibalism where everyone in the community must consume the bones of the dead. They believe by doing so, it strengthens them and keep the spirits alive among the tribe.
3) A Walk To Remember
When you’re pregnant, raging hormones and mood swings are just another day. In China, the husbands carry their pregnant wives and walk over blazing hot coal. The ritual intends to allow the soon-to-be mothers to have a smooth and less painful labour. While team pregnant struggles with their condition, team husband doesn’t think they should have an easy journey, hence the practice. Additionally, it’s an opportunity for the soon-to-be fathers to show their compassion for their newborns and wives.
4) Burn Witches, Burn!
Every year on the 30th of April, The Czechs prepare to set thousands of fires throughout the country to burn witches. Not literally, but sculptures made out of straws and old clothes that resembles witches. Also known as Walpurgis Night, an ancient legend believed that evil powers are at the peak of their strength for 2 days starting on the last day of April every year. Thus, people must protect themselves, which explains the burning rituals. The ancient would throw burning brooms up into the air to weaken the witches’ powers. People roast sausages, dance and drink while the fire roars. Ironically, people hardly associate this practice to magic rituals.
5) Shall We Dance?
Not everyone dances, but for the Merina tribe in Madagascar, they get to dance with their deceased ancestors every 5-7 years. They remove their ancestors’ remains and carefully take off the burial garments, followed by wrapping them up with brand new silk shrouds. Then, the ultimate ritual begins – dancing with the corpses, while the guests too, dance and drink. By sunset, they return the bodies to the tomb and turn them upside down. Known to some as The Turning Of The Bones, the tribe believes that the bodies’ complete decomposition signifies that the dead have finally joined their ancestor’s world.
6) It Stings To Be A Man
A regular adolescent stumbles into adulthood usually with a party or zero ceremony. But things are significantly different if you’re a teenager of the Satere-Mawe tribe in Amazon. Young children as young as 12 wear bullet ant-ridden gloves for not 1, but 20 times for 10 minutes. They will dance with the gloves on while the angry bullet ants sting them, as if wearing them alone isn’t horrible enough. A bullet ant’s sting is 30 times greater than that of a bee. This practice means to show that men that live their life without suffering isn’t worth anything at all.
7) There’s More Than Just Penis
Ever imagined a festival dedicated to the male sex organ? Don’t be surprised to spot penis references on sculptures, souvenirs, and even food in Japan. Kanamara Matsuri has been a spring tradition since people celebrated it annually on the first Sunday of April in 1969. The tradition mainly spreads the knowledge on safe-sex practices and raises funds for HIV charities. Legend has it that a sharp-tooth demon hid itself in the vagina of a woman that rejected him and bit off the penis of his husband. The woman then ordered a blacksmith to eliminate the demon. Subsequently, it inspired this festival. Prostitutes traditionally approach the 3-foot penis statue for prayers against sexually transmitted disease(s).
In brief, these cultural practices are undeniably bizarre and unusual. But despite that, they unite the people and remind them of their roots. Will you partake in any of these cultural practices if given the chance? Share your thoughts in the comments below!