If you ever hit a dead-end in your social life, just look up random facts about India - you'll be surprised at the amount of time you could kill on that - and you'd be pretty entertained too. India is famous for its storytelling, stories, legends and myths - but here's one thing we specialize in that is just as interesting - rituals.
In a land of Baba's and Guru's - rituals are no foreign concept - and to most of us they never make any sense but we have to take part anyway, which is okay sometimes. But there are some rituals that just don't make any kind of sense at all.
So here are some weird rituals that I found out about, so you can kill some time and be entertained.
The Bani Festival or The Who Dies First Festival
Have you ever had the urge to beat someone up, simply out of frustration? We all have, but it's not like you can do it right? Well, Andhra Pradesh doesn't give a fuck about formalities. The Bani Festival is an annual celebration that happens during Dusshera, where people beat each other up with lathis. That's right, it's like an Aarey Forest Protest every year.
And they don't just beat each other up, they strike each other right in the head, and then they proceed to continue till they're all drenched in blood - and all this continues till the sun sets. But this isn't just out of frustration or anything of the sort - it's to celebrate the killing of a demon by Mala-Malleshwara (Shiva).
And the priests at from the temples nearby have seen this ritual pass on for the last 100 years or more - and earlier axes and spears were used instead of lathis. Ouch. I don't know how that worked. But now there are police and emergency care services around all the time, just in case. This year alone, 56 people faced severe injuries.
Catch The Baby Or It Dies
As bizarre as it sounds, this is an absolutely real, pee-in-your pants crazy ritual. Maharashtra and Karnataka being its participants - babies a little while after they are born, are thrown off balconies and roofs which are 50 feet high, and then caught in a huge white sheet below just before they drop to the ground.
This ritual has been followed for over 700 years and is believed to bring prosperity to the family and the child. That's some great heights to go to, just to bless your baby - the baby isn't going to be that much of a failure, chill.
The National Commission For Protection Of Child Rights is investigating these cases to rightfully, avoid any injuries and deaths - which surprisingly according to organizers, there have been none so far - in 100 years. Great catching, and throwing but use the skill on a cricket field, maybe?
Acupuncture, But It's Actually Just Stabbing Yourself
We know that if you're dedicated to the Lord you probably have a gateway pass to Heaven or whatever good lies in the beyond - but how far will you take it? Are you willing to stab your flesh and chant and hum prayers just to be in the good books?
Tamil Nadu is willing to go there and make a festival out of it - Thaipoosam. The festival that celebrates Lord Murugan (or Kartikeya, the son of Shiva and Parvati) receiving a lance to destroy the evil army of Tarakasura. Like following a 48 day fast isn't enough - many devotees pierce their bodies with hooks, skewers and lances called the vel.
Some people even try pulling tractors or other heavy objects with the hooks in their skin, and some others pierce their tongue and cheek to impede speech to attain full concentration on the Lord.
This one is just a little too painful to comment about, but like if the Lord is up there, and reading this - please explain. Thank you.
One Word - Aghori.
If you've ever read up about the Aghori tribe of Varanasi- you may have an idea as to what they're up to in their regular, day-to-day lives - cannibalism and necromancy.
Keep in mind, this is known to be one of the most powerful clans in India - with Tantrik healing powers and is a very highly respected community with utmost knowledge. They welcome death into their lives like I welcome caramel popcorn into mine. They believe that for a new person to enter the world, another has to exit.
So they have an important private ritual called the Shav Putra. In order to complete it, they have to find human corpses - which is a normal thing to do, yes. But it’s hard to find any in Varanasi because nearly everyone is cremated.
But the families in Varanasi, who cannot afford rituals just dump the bodies in the Ganga. So, the Aghori monks literally ‘fish’ them out. And when they do, they meditate on it, chop the head off (because it holds the most energy) and some Aghoris eat the flesh - Hannibal Lecter is proud.
To add to all the weirdness, they keep the skull of the corpse as a reminder of the impermanence of life. I mean I get it - embracing death is great because it's inevitable, but that does not mean I have to sleep with a dead skull in my bed.
On that note, I think it's safe to say that India does have some weird, spooky and even impractical rituals that people follow so blindly - it never occurs to them that maybe, just maybe they should think twice before they do it.