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Weird rituals still practiced today

By , People Daily Digital
Tuesday, November 9th, 2021 02:28 | 4 mins read
Indian man showing the power of his genitalia. PHOTO/COURTESY

Powering vital organs - India

The Japanese have a whole Shinto festival dedicated to the penis called the Kanamara Matsuri, held each Spring in Tokyo. But in India, a certain holy man garnered respect due to the power of his gentleman sausage.

The man was a Sadhu, an itinerant Hindu holy man who rejects earthly comforts, accepting the hardships of life as a test of his spirituality. Well-trained in yoga and meditation, these men are known to wear very little or nothing at all, relying on the kindness (and probably awe) of strangers to get by.

And in 2018, this man upped the game by pulling a small truck with a rope tied to his single-eyed trouser snake. Now that’s some true cockiness.

Finger chopping for mourning – Indonesia

They say that losing a loved one can be like losing a piece of yourself. For women in the Dani tribe on the Indonesian island of Papua, this sentiment is taken quite literally.

Women, who suffer a bereavement, were once required to amputate the ends of their fingers – for both the spiritual representation of their grief and to ward of the potentially vengeful spirits of the deceased.

In times past, even small babies were required to have fingertips removed, often bitten off by their mothers (older, voluntary women have their fingers cut off by a relative using a sharpened stone blade).

Now this ritual has been made illegal, but rumours persist that the remote tribe continues anyway. Many Dani women seem to be suspiciously lacking in digits.

To prove manhood, suitors have to run on top of bulls –Ethiopia 

For the Hamer tribe of Ethiopia, you are allowed to marry only after you ‘become a man’.

The test you have to pass is running across the backs of castrated bulls, naked, about four times. It starts with a massive party with drinking and dancing all day until sunset.

The villagers will line up about seven select bulls side by side. One group will hold the animal’s tail and the other the head to keep them in formation.

The boy will then charge towards the animals, hop onto the back of the first bull and try to run across the wiggly backs four times without falling. If he face-plants every time, he must remain a boy for another year before getting another go.

Real nail and cross crucifixions –The Philippines

The practice is definitely in the Bible. Not sure it was ever suggested as something Christians should do, however. But according to some Filipino Christians, that’s nonsense! They allow themselves to be crucified. Not in the puerile Easter passion play way with leather straps over their wrists for 20 minutes, either.

They actually get properly nailed to some planks of wood. Catholic leaders have condemned the practice, worried that someone might get hurt (!). In 2019, 9 people at 3 different sites across The Philippines were nailed to crosses to celebrate Easter.

It’s clearly dangerous, but one must admit that it’s an impressive show of faith to endure such excruciating pain –and you ain’t Jesus. 

Tossing the baby –India 

For the Hamer tribe of Ethiopia, you are allowed to marry only after you ‘become a man’. The test you have to pass is running across the backs of castrated bulls, naked, about four times. It starts with a massive party with drinking and dancing all day until sunset.

The villagers will line up about seven select bulls side by side. One group will hold the animal’s tail and the other the head to keep them in formation.

The boy will then charge towards the animals, hop onto the back of the first bull and try to run across the wiggly backs four times without falling. If he face-plants every time, he must remain a boy for another year before getting another go.

Tossing the baby –India 

You must have, not only exceptional courage as a parent to fling your tot from a platform 15 metres high, but also extraordinary faith in humanity to believe that the kids will be caught in a lesso held by some folks below.

But that’s what happens in parts of Karnataka and Maharashtra states in India. Considered a portent of great luck for your new infant, the tradition dates back to a suggestion made by a Sufi mystic to ward off a rise in infant deaths.

He claimed that flinging ailing babies from a roof 30-ft high would show “their trust in the Almighty”. He further suggested that: “the babies were miraculously cradled to safety in a hammock-like sheet that appeared in mid-air.”

Today, instead of a random cloth, the sheet is brought to the foot of the shrine and held by both Muslim and Hindu men.

The snake handling evangelical christians –US 

The Snake Handlers believe that if you love Jesus enough, you won’t get bitten. Mainly practiced by off-shoots of the Holiness, Pentecostal, Charismatic and other minor evangelical churches in the Appalachian Mountains, United States, members also consumed strychnine, a highly toxic alkaloid used as a pesticide, relying on faith not to die.

Plenty of people died during the last practice. But it is the snake handling that has cost the most lives—as many as 120 deaths since 1910, with around 35 people dying between 1936 and 1973.

Even when snake handlers don’t die when bitten, plenty of parishioners in these churches display atrophied hands and missing digits.

But, at the very least, when a snake handler dies, believers don’t think it was due to a lack of faith—it was simply in God’s plan. Sneaky…

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