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Weird Indian Rituals That Will Shock You!

Updated on June 18, 2018
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India is a culturally diverse country and has a rich cultural heritage. Every state of India has a different culture and different traditions. Every state in India has its own culture but such variation sometimes also brings along some weird rituals and traditions. Yes, there are certain rituals which are unebelievable. Though we are very proud of our culture and traditions, however there are also some strange and weird rituals which will shock you and you will wonder if this really happens.

 Kill or get killed - Bani Festival, Andhra Pradesh
Kill or get killed - Bani Festival, Andhra Pradesh
  • Bani Festival is celebrated during Dussehra every year at Devaragattu Temple in Andhra Pradesh. During the festival, hundreds of lathi (stick)-wielding devotes hit each other on the head till midnight. It’s shocking to see blood dripping all over the place during the festival which is celebrated to commemorate the death of a demon at Lord Shiva’s hands. It is said that about a century ago, people used swords instead of laths and sticks. Medical attendants and policemen are deployed during the festival but they are mostly mute spectators amidst the frenzy that follows.
  • During the festival of Nag Panchami, cobras are worshipped and offered milk to drink. Generally people are so scared of snakes and kill them on spotting a snake in the house but Nag Panchami is an exception.
  • India is the land of agriculture. Farmers depend on rains to get a good harvest. To appease the Rain God, frog weddings are organized by farmers in Maharashtra and Assam.

Rituals are not fixed--they are constructed and reconstructed over time, to fit people's needs.

— GLEB TSIPURSKY

Quiz on Hindu Rituals

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Pushkar Camel Fair - Pushkar, Rajasthan
Pushkar Camel Fair - Pushkar, Rajasthan
  • During the Pushkar Mela in Rajasthan, a spectacular camel fair is held in which almost 50,000 camels participate. The fair goes on for five days during which the camels are shaved, dressed & decorated, entered into races and traded. There is even a beauty contest for the camels. The camel fair is so popular that people come from far and wide to attend it. An array of musicians, dancers, acrobats, magicians and snake charmers entertain the crowd and add to the charm of the fair.
  • Cow is considered a sacred animal in India. However in Bhiwdawad village in Maharashtra, the worship of cows is done to an extreme. Cows are decorated with flowers and henna on Enakdakshi. Villagers lay down on the ground before the cows to offer their respect and let the cows walk over them.
  • In some rural villages, if a girl child is thought to be possessed by evil or born with some deformity then they marry off the girl with a dog to exorcise bad omen.

Facing the raging bull unarmed - Jallikattu, Tamil Nadu
Facing the raging bull unarmed - Jallikattu, Tamil Nadu
  • During Pongal celebrations at Jallikattu in Tamil Nadu, scores of unarmed men chase the bull trying to snatch a prize from its horns. (Somewhat similar to bull fighting in Spain) However unlike bull fighting in Spain, here the bull is not killed. The Supreme Court banned Jallikattu in 2014 as in the past two decades, over 200 men have lost their lives in this dangerous sport.
  • In this utterly shocking and bizarre ritual practiced at Baba Umer Dargah near Sholapur in Maharashtra, babies are dropped from a height of 50 ft. to the people waiting below. (I can’t even imagine how somebody can do this!) A similar custom is alsi observed at the Sri Santeswar temple near Indi, in Karnataka. This weird ritual has been followed for over 700 years and is said to bring prosperity to the family. No injuries have been reported so far but The national Commission of Protection of Child Rights is investigating the claims.
  • During the Theemithi Festival in Tamil Nadu, devotees walk on fire to get the blessings of the God. The practice of fire walking during Theemithi has spread to Sri Lanka, Singapore and South Africa as well. The festival is celebrated to commemorate Draupadi’s act of walking over fire after the battle of Mahabharata.

Rolling over food leftovers - Madey Snana , Karnataka
Rolling over food leftovers - Madey Snana , Karnataka
  • At Kukke Subraman Temple in Karnatka, people from lower caste roll over the left over food by the higher caste Brahmins to get rid of ailments and evils.
  • At Kamakhya Temple in Guwahati, the residing deity is the vagina of Mother Goddess. The Goddess goes through menstruation in June and Ambubachi Mela(fair) is held during that time. Everything offered to the Goddess is red during the time of the fair.
  • In Mahalakshmi Temple at Mettu Mahadhanapuram in Tamil Nadu, the priests smash coconuts on the head of the devotees for good luck, wealth and prosperity.

Do non-religious people carry out religious rituals?

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Pushkar Mela: Dancing camel #4

© 2017 Shaloo Walia

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    • swalia profile imageAUTHOR

      Shaloo Walia 

      6 months ago from India

      Yeah Devika...Some rituals need to change with time.

    • DDE profile image

      Devika Primić 

      6 months ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

      It is shocking indeed! These superstitious minds tell us how one thinks about such powers.

    • swalia profile imageAUTHOR

      Shaloo Walia 

      12 months ago from India

      @Dora Traditions sometimes give way to superstitions.

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Weithers 

      12 months ago from The Caribbean

      Shocking indeed, but also interesting! Oh, the power of traditions that would make people do something as weird as hitting each other in the head or marrying a dog and a girl!

    • swalia profile imageAUTHOR

      Shaloo Walia 

      12 months ago from India

      Yes, Venkatachari ji. These practices are quite deep rooted but some are quite dangerous too like Jallikatttu which hasalready sparked so much debate and outrage over its ban.

    • Venkatachari M profile image

      Venkatachari M 

      12 months ago from Hyderabad, India

      Very strange practices indeed. I wondered reading it. Anyway, beliefs are beliefs and we can't question religious beliefs of these people even though we may show concern at the dangers of some of these practices.

    • swalia profile imageAUTHOR

      Shaloo Walia 

      12 months ago from India

      @Eric You're welcome!

    • Ericdierker profile image

      Eric Dierker 

      12 months ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Well these are indeed strange. Thanks for sharing them with us.

    • swalia profile imageAUTHOR

      Shaloo Walia 

      12 months ago from India

      You are right Hari. People hold on to their traditions but when traditions become superstitions then it becomes a problem.

    • swalia profile imageAUTHOR

      Shaloo Walia 

      12 months ago from India

      Thanks John! India has a rich cultural heritage. There are so many different cultures that even we Indians don't have much idea about many such traditions.

    • Jodah profile image

      John Hansen 

      12 months ago from Queensland Australia

      Wow, Shalloo. These rituals are incredible. Thanks for sharing. I find it so very interesting learning more about Indian culture.

    • shprd74 profile image

      Hari Prasad S 

      12 months ago from Bangalore

      Shaloo,

      Superstitions are to stay irrespective of what we think about it. Some are as complex as human psyche's. The reason for an entire community holding on its beliefs has to do with their own history and culture and tradition. Every community in india has its own deep rooted beliefs. India being an ancient and very big country we have lot of contrasts.

      - hari

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