If you see a stranger walking by in strange baggy clothes, tattoos and piercing all over his body, the first thought in your mind would be, “uh! Weirdo!” and then you’ll move on. This is how strange defined in our world and in today’s language; but what if I tell you that the weirdness in human behavior is not a product of past one or two generations. People have been doing bizarre things from a very long time (and in masses), so long that they have taken a form of traditions. Be it bathing in tomatoes or throwing newborns up high in the air, traditions in some places make absolutely no sense; but since they exist (somehow) why not take a short tour of the weird traditions of our big wide world.
P.S. It is always important to remember that the following traditions may sound unfamiliar or extraordinary to us but these could be more meaningful to the people who follow them and that they could have some spiritual meaning attached to them.
10. Hanging graves in Philippines
While different religions practice different traditions to pay respect to the dead, like burial for Christians and Muslims and fire pyre for the Hindus; in some places people prefer burying and then hanging the dead. Though this culture was mainly practiced near Sagada, Philippines, its traces can also be found in China, where it is still practiced by the Bo people.
9. Tossing babies in India
In a small village named Solapur of India people believe it is good luck to throw their new born babies from a considerable height. In this tradition the parents of the child climb over 50 feet height and toss their child while the villagers stand below with a large piece of cloth to catch the baby. It is said that by doing this the child will have a longer, healthier, pretty much disease-free life. While there has been no research done on the fact whether it is true or not, I personally think that this tradition is bizarre and not to mention, dangerous.
8. Masai spitting in Africa
This tradition is beyond any doubt weird, but it also has its own icky-factor. We always thought that to greet someone on our planet a handshake, a Namaste or bowing is enough, but turns out we were wrong. In Africa a tribe named Masai has its own way of greeting and paying respect to people, especially their elders. They do so by spitting on their own hands and then they shake hands with the elders. It surely is a unique way for showing respect for someone.
7. Human Sacrifice
Who haven’t heard of sacrifices being made in pretext of impressing the gods. At some places followers sacrifice any sort of animals as an offering to their deity. Animal sacrifice is cruel enough but in some cultures people just do not stop at animals. They are even willing to sacrifice one of their own kinds to make the gods happy. Human sacrifice generally included infants or virgins as they were considered pure. This gruesome tradition has been banned almost everywhere and is now seen as a punishable crime. Though rarely, but world gets to see the ritual once in awhile.
6. La Tomatina
This is more of a festival rather than a ritual. Celebrated in Valencia, Spain; this festival is all about tomatoes and tomatoes! It is a peculiar yet enjoyable tradition that takes place on the last Wednesday of August ever year. It is the peak time for tomato harvest. Like a snowball fight, people pelt each other with tomatoes. They bathe in tomatoes, they swim in tomatoes, and they celebrate tomatoes. The tomato fight is followed by an evening filled with wine and celebrations.
5. Mourning of Muharram
Though it may have some spiritual meaning it still made on the top ten weirdest and painful traditions. Generally practiced by Shia Muslims it involved body whipping with chains that are sharp and hurtful. This tradition is performed to mourn the death of Husayn ibn Ali, a grandson of their messiah Mohammad. The tradition is performed by all the age groups, even children are made to do it. This ritual is generally heard of in India, Pakistan, Iraq, Lebanon and Bahrain.
4. Merry Christmas, is it?
Christmas is a holy festival for Christians, and the biggest festival too. People decorate Christmas trees with lights and fairies and stars. Children wait for Santa Claus to bring them gifts. Families gather together to celebrate. But in Ukraine, Christmas decorations have entirely different meaning. It is considered auspicious if you decorate your tree with spiders and web (artificial of course). If in the morning you found spider and web (this time real ones) on the tree, than that is a lucky charm for you. Sounds to me like a creepy Christmas.
3. Running with Bulls
In the city of Pamplona, Spain, July 7th to July 14th is celebrated as Running of the Bulls festival, and boy! This is one heck of a festival. A herd of untamed bulls are let loose on the streets and they chase the men who participated in the festival. This is one of the most dangerous traditions among the others, plus it comes with the benefits of being weird. The aim of these men is to get out alive and uninjured out of the race. Wounds and injuries are common in this ritual of running with the bulls. It comes with terms and conditions applied, obviously.
2. Foot Binding
As soon as you read the words “foot binding” what comes into your mind first? Maybe it is some cruel tradition of chaining somebody up, maybe an act of slavery. If you think it is that simple then think again. This tradition is far more cruel and painful than you could possibly imagine. Practiced in China for almost a thousand years, this tradition has scored ten on ten on my list of most weird, gruesome and meaningless rituals. In this ritual, young girls, usually aged 6 or 5, were forced to wear tight bandages or shoes made of metal, constricting the growth of their feet than few inches and therefore deforming them. Women with small feet were considered beautiful, and therefore the ritual. Little girls on whom this ritual was performed did not only face deformity but also broken toes, searing pain, fear of infections with other things.
This form of self sacrifice was very common in India until Raja Ram Mohan Roy came into the picture. It is a funeral practice where a widowed woman burns alive on her dead husband’s funeral pyre. It was sometimes voluntary but later widows were forced by their in-laws to sacrifice themselves in the fire as a widow’s life was considered worthless. A woman’s life was worth living only until her husband is alive (so the tradition said). Jauhar is a version of Sati, just on a large scale. In this system, the wives of a king or the whole kingdom threw themselves into fire when their husbands went to fight in a war and had no hope of winning. Though any such practice has been banned, but cases of sati still occur now and then.