The world is full of a great diversity of people with different sociocultural backgrounds. Each tribe, race or nation has their own distinctive traditions, festivals and customs that distinguish them from others. Though most customs serve similar purposes, some are very unusual and explicitly weird. Here are some of the most bizarre traditions in the world.

1. THAIPUSAM

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The Tamil communities of India, Sri Lanka and other Asian countries annually hold the Thaipusam otherwise known as the festival of piercings. At first this festival seems like the normal colorful festivals held in India, that is, until it starts becoming odd. As the name implies, religious devotees usually have their faces pierced with metal spikes, hooks get inserted into various parts of their bodies. Almost no part of the body is spared, tongues, ears, cheeks, you name it. They also go to the length of walking over burning coals or sitting on them. All these they do in belief that their sins are being washed away by the pains they go through.

2. FAMADIHANA

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The people of Malagasy, Madagascar honor their dead in a unique way. Every seven years, they celebrate the festival of the Famadihana. In celebration, they exhume the corpses of their dead family members and ancestors. They then wrap the corpses in fresh cloths and have their names rewritten on the cloth to ensure that they will never be forgotten. The family of the deceased then dance with the corpses on their heads round the family tomb site after which they place the corpses back in their graves.

3. BABY TOSSING

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Indians have lots of strange customs. One of such bizarre customs is the tradition of tossing babies aged 1 month to two years from a height of 30 – 50 feet(from the top of a mosque or temple) as a sign of goodwill. Crazy isn’t it? Well, luckily the family of the child below usually catch the baby in a cloth. It is believed to bring Good luck and success to the child.

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4. MONKEY BUFFET FESTIVAL

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Lopburi, Thailand is known for the thousands of monkeys which reside at the ruins of the Phra Prang Sam Yot temple. They are believed to bring good luck to the town and even have their own festive feast. The monkey buffet festival starts with performers in monkey costumes entertaining the crowd. Then it goes on to the grand unveiling of the feast which takes place at their temple residence. Here, tables and pyramids of fruits and vegetables are unveiled for the monkey-only buffet which is attended by thousands of monkeys. It is adviced for spectators to leave the monkeys to their feast as they tend to get unruly after eating to their fill.

5. EATING THE ASHES OF THE DEAD

A Yanomami woman and her child. Image Credit: WikiMedia Commons.

The Yanomami tribe, found in Venezuela and parts of Brazil have the belief that the soul needs to be protected after the body dies. This protection they believe, can be granted when the body has been burnt and eaten by members of the deceased family. As such, they burn the flesh of their deceased relatives to ashes and grind their bones into powder. They mix the ashes and powder in their local delicacy (banana soup). The soup is then eaten by all the family members. They believe that the soul of the deceased can now rest in peace and lives within them.

6. FINGER CUTTING RITUAL

A man from the Dani tribe. Image Credit : WikiMedia Commons.

When we talk all about suffering over someone else’s death, the women on the Dani tribe of Indonesia can tell you a lot about that. In the Dani tribe, aside from the usual mourning rites over a deceased husband, the women have to go through extreme pain to really showcase their grievance. This is done by slowly and methodically chopping off the upper digits of some of their fingers. The process is extremely painful and the pain incurred by such acts is believed to keep away the restless spirits of the deceased.

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7. BULLET ANT GLOVES

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The sting of a bullet ant is often described to be equivalent to the pain incurred from a bullet wound. Well, men of the Satere-mawe tribe(Brazil) know a lot about such pain. Their most crazy custom is their initiation ceremony of young men into manhood. The young men first gather bullet ants from the forest. The ants are then drugged by a medicine man, making them more ferocious than before and are placed into gloves. The men then wear the gloves 20 times for 10 minutes whilst performing a dance. With a sting 30 times more painful than that of a bee, the angry ants unleash their arsenal on the hands of the men. The purpose of the ceremony is to teach the young men that a life lived without suffering anything or working for anything isn’t worth anything at all.

8. BATHROOM BAN AFTER MARRIAGE

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When you talk about unique weddings, the Tidong community’s style is no exception. The cutest part of the wedding is the custom that prevents the groom from seeing his bride’s face until he sings her several love songs. Okay, lets go to the weird part. After the wedding rites, the couple are not allowed to use the toilet and bathroom for three days and three nights. They are not even allowed to change their clothes, no defecating, no urinating and no bathing for three days straight. The couple are watched by several people to ensure that they do not break the laws and also serve them food and water in minimal amounts. They believe that going through such process ensures a blissful and fruitful married life.

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9. HIMBA CULTURE

A Himba woman. Image Credit: WikiMedia Commons.

The Himba tribe of Namibia are known for their fascinating customs. One of such is the no bathing rule. Women are forbidden to bath with water. Instead they cleanse their body with smoke from burning incense and apply aromatic resins which give their skin a smooth reddish glow. This reddish glow is a sign of a healthy skin to them. Another custom that is really surprising is their strange way of accepting male guests . The man shows approval and pleasure of seeing his guest by offering his wife to his guest for a night. The guest sleeps with the man’s wife, while the man sleeps in another room or even outside the house.

10. SHARO FESTIVAL

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Among the Fulani tribe of Nigeria is a brutal coming of age ceremony designed to test the manliness of young men. SHARO means flogging. It is celebrated during the dry season usually during the Eid-el-kabir celebration. Young men are whipped severely to the delight of onlookers. Anyone who shows any sign of anguish or pain is immediately disqualified, thus bringing shame to his family. The tradition is also carried out as part of the marriage rites. At the end of the festival, the survivors are celebrated into manhood and are permitted to marry the girl of their choice.

11. FESTIVAL OF THE DEAD

The Chewa people performing their traditional dance. Image Credit: WikiMedia Commons.

The Chewa community, a Bantu-speaking town in Malawi go really out of their way to honor the dead. During the burial ceremony, the body of the deceased is literally washed inside out. The washing of the insides is done by slitting the throat of the deceased and pouring water through the cavities. The water is then squeezed out of the body repeatedly till it runs out clean. The disgusting part is that the same water is used to prepare a feast for the whole tribe.

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