In a world with so many countries, religions, tribes and customs, it is impossible for everyone to like everything. While we have come a long way since civilisation began, some communities are stuck with age-old traditions. While some of these may be mystical, others are downright lame. Here are 20 traditions from across the world will make you go WTF:
1. Thaipusam – The festival of piercings
2. Famadihana – Dancing with the dead
A funeral tradition followed by the Malagasy tribe in Madagascar, people literally dance with dead bodies as part of the Famadihana custom. After bringing bodies of ancestors from their burial place, they re-wrap them in fresh cloth and dance around the tomb to live music. The ritual is followed once in seven years, but has been in the decline of late.
3. Don’t ask for salt when at a host’s place in Egypt
Looks like Egyptians get offended easily. So, if you are invited over for dinner and want to add more salt to your dish, dare not touch the saltshaker because Egyptians feel it is equivalent to insulting the host. Oops!
4. Don’t show up on time in Venezuela
Looks like Venezuelans are just like Indians! Reaching on time is considered rude in Venezuela and it is recommended to reach at least 15 minutes later than the scheduled time. Guests who reach on time are looked down upon as being too eager and greedy. Well, Venezuelans should take some cue from Indians!
5. Polterabend – Break the dishes and get the newly weds to clean the mess in Germany
In this weird pre-wedding German tradition, friends and family of the bride and groom come together and break dishes! And then the bride and groom have to clean up the mess. This way they get to practice ‘working together in difficult times.’ Aren’t we getting a little to literal here, people?
6. Throw the baby for good luck in India
This ritual is mostly followed in Karnataka where newborn babies are thrown off the 50-feet high Sri Santeswar temple. Before you jump to a conclusion; the babies are obviously caught by the family in a cloth. Couples who are blessed with a baby after taking a vow at the temple follow this 500-year-old tradition. It is believed to bring good luck to the babies. Don’t know about the babies, but I sure wish we could throw some politicians without catching them.
7. Monkey Buffet Festival – Serve buffet to monkeys in Bangkok
As the name suggests, this is a buffet for monkeys. Monkeys feast at this annual event in Thailand where over 3,000 kgs of fruits and vegetables are on display for the monkeys to gorge on in Lopburi, Bangkok.
8. Muharram mourning – whip yourself to honour Hussain’s sacrifice in Islamic countries and India
Muharram is the annual celebration which commemorates the death of Muhammad’s grandson Hussain. He was killed along with 72 warriors at the Battle of Karbala. In a rather bizarre custom, people go on mourning processions to remember their sacrifice and whip themselves using chains to honour the sacrifice.
9. A championship for making the funniest face in England
This hilarious expression below is what gurning looks like and it is a rural English tradition celebrated since 1267. There even existed a World Gurning Championship in England in which participants make the most grotesque face possible. If you think this is a silly tradition, you couldn’t be more wrong. Four-time world gurning champion Peter Jackman got his teeth removed to make his expressions easier. Talk about dedication!
10. Feed the dead with wine in Rome
Romans believe in feeding the dead. So much so that graves contain pipes through which the kin of the deceased can pour honey, wine and other food items into their grave in the Roman burial grounds.
11. Camel wrestling in Turkey
You would have heard of bull fighting, but camel fighting? Not so much. People in Turkey look forward to the event in which two male camels fight it out with each other. Whoever doesn’t run or back away wins. This event is organised during mating season and the camels have a natural instinct to fight off the other male.
12. Eating the dead’s ash in Venezuela and Brazil
Sure one misses their loved one’s when they pass away, but eating their ash to remember them forever? A little far fetched, isn’t it? That is exactly what the Yonamamo tribe from Brazil and Venezuela does. Since tradition forbids them from keeping any body part, it is burned and crushed, and the remains are divided amongst the family members and consumed by all.
13. Blackening the bride in Scotland
Having some fun before the wedding is great, but this pre-wedding ritual in Scotland doesn’t seem like a lot of fun for the bride. The custom involves throwing eggs, spoilt milk and, basically, all things disgusting at her. The ‘blackened bride’ is then taken around the town. The custom is a metaphor for the tough life that the bride might have to go through after the wedding. The tradition prepares her for the new chapter as after going through this, all marital problems will look tiny!
14. Finger cutting when someone dies in Indonesia
This tradition in the Dani tribe in Indonesia takes bizarre to a whole new level. When a family member passes away, women from this tribe have to suffer physical pain besides suffering from emotional grief. And to do so, they cut off a part of their fingers. This is supposedly done to ‘satisfy ancestral ghosts.’ Whatever that means. I wonder why do men not follow this custom? For sanity’s sake, this custom is rarely practiced now.
15. Carrying pregnant wife over burning coal in China
In China, it is believed that if the husband carries his pregnant wife over burning coal with bare feet, the wife has an easy delivery. So, physical pain for the husband to ease out the wife’s labour? What kind of a tradition is this?
16. Binding feet to limit them from growing in China
17. Bathroom ban for three days after the wedding in Northern Borne
Bathroom ban is another lame custom followed by the Tidong tribe from northern Borne. The couple are not allowed to use the bathroom till three days after the wedding. Yes, that means no urinating, defecating or bathing. The tribe believes that it leads to a happy married life. In case you are wondering how that is possible, the family ensures that the couple eats and drinks only small amounts.
18. Bride kidnapping by Romani Gypsies
In a particularly disturbing custom followed by Roman Gypsies, kidnapping a girl you like is very much legal. If that wasn’t weird enough, kidnapping also means that you’ve won her and have the right to marry her, provided that you are able to keep her as a hostage for 3-5 days. What can I say? I hope the tradition is discontinued now.
19. Wearing rings to have a giraffe’s neck in Thailand
Thailand’s Karen tribe is fascinated with long necks and looks like they can go a long way to achieve them. Women from the tribe wear rings around their neck to get a large neck, which they find to be a symbol of beauty and elegance. Girls start wearing rings around their necks when they are all of 5 and more rings are added as they grow up.
20. Eating the baby’s placenta
In some countries, mothers eat their own placenta after giving birth to take in other nutrients that the placenta is known to have. This tradition is followed in China, Jamaica, and some parts of India.