In this modern era of globalization and development around the world, one could not possibly believe that even in the 21st century, taboos based on plain superstitions still continue to persist. In fact these taboos, at times, are quite severe as they involve violent acts.
Exotic cultures lure and engage our vast imagination; however it’s not necessary that all these rituals are safe nor is it necessary that they are always violent. The mysteries within each culture and society are too cursed and scary many a times. Taboo is the act of strictly prohibiting any act or practice based purely on social customs because such practice is deemed unsuitable or unclean by the society. Here are a few bizarre taboos which are being practiced and celebrated around the world.
1. Death Rites
The Amazonian tribe of Yanomami is a very ancient tribe. They believe death to be not a natural phenomenon and hence when any member of the tribe dies, the corpse is cremated and then his ashes are mixed with bananas. The other tribe members then consume these bananas as they believe the spirit of the deceased should remain with them forever.
The annual festival in Thailand known by the name ‘Phuket’ attracts a large crowd. This extremely maddening fest requires the participants to insert spears, swords, knives or in other words, anything sharp and pointed through their cheeks. The popular myth involved with this act is that it brings them closer to God and bestows upon them good luck.
3. Dance with the Dead
In Madagascar, Famadihana, meaning “The Turning of the Bones,” is a traditional festival. These community people believe that the faster the dead body decomposes, the faster the spirit reaches the afterlife. Hence, they dig out the buried body, dance with them and later on rebury them. This weird practice is carried out once every two years or so.
4. Fire Walking
The Nine Emperor Gods Festival is carried out in Penang, Malaysia. One of the many weird lists of events involves walking barefoot on burning fire embers. The hot fire is believed to overcome evil aura and bring purification to the body. Innumerable devotees even carry deity statutes at times while walking on fire to earn more reward.
5. Sky Burials
In Tibet, Buddhists take the bodies of dead people to high altitudes and do not believe in burying of the deceased. The aim of taking bodies to high grounds is to let the body be eaten up by predators such as vultures so as to dispose of the body quickly. Specialists are called to cut the body into pieces and spread around to be eaten up.
The Shia’h Muslims carry out this extremely painful act once every year. The followers beat up themselves, i.e., self-flagellate themselves in the Holy month of Muharram in order to respect the martyrdom of Hussain, the grandson of Prophet Muhammad. In this act, the people rip off their body with blades attached to chains. Surprisingly, these people say that they do not feel any pain in the process.
7. The Sun Dance
In order to honor the earth’s spirit, the Native Americans have long been known to perform various rituals. One such trend involves the participant’s chest skin to be pierced with a skewer. A rope connects the skewer to a pole which represents the Tree of Life. The participant then moves back and forth in an attempt to free themselves from the skewer. A lot of blood is shed during this Sun dance which may last for hours.
8. Cannibalism and Necrophagy
The famous Aghori Babas, native to the city of Varanasi in India are known to feed on the dead. There are five types of people who cannot be cremated according to the Hindu religion and they are- holy men, children, pregnant or unmarried women, and people who have died of leprosy or snake bites. These people are ‘buried’ in the Holy water of Ganges, where the Aghori Babas pull the rotted body out from the water and ritually consume them.
The above mentioned rituals are accepted by quite a few people but I’m sure many of us just find them queer & unbelievable in the open-mindset of present world. Due to superstitious beliefs and myths, people from various tribes still carry on with these traditions. It’s about time we think about putting an end to their ‘celebration’, so they may live without pain and obsolete practices.