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10 Most Bizarre Rituals in India

Updated on April 30, 2015
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Kannan loves to create articles comprising Top 10's/20's. He has a knack of preparing listicles that help readers and derive information.

India with its more than 5000 years of history brings with it rituals that are most bizarre and shocking. Rituals do take place in every part of the world, but India has some of the weirdest rituals. People in India are generally very religious, and illiterate population (India has the largest number of illiterates in the world) of the country being large they fall for these ghastly rituals in the name of religion or can have numerous other reasons.

Fake babas (saints) conning people appears in regularity in newspapers. These fake babas make use of everything from black magic to sophisticated tricks to advise people to give balidan (sacrificing life, often someone else's life) to fulfil their wishes. It is clearly the case as if one baba is caught there emerges another with other kind of tricks.

Also Indian laws dealing with these issues are very weak. Once they get bail they set their shops in different cities or states easily.

Baby throwing, girl marrying a dog, walking on fire to name a few are some of the rituals that are still done in India to appease god or to do away health/other problems.

The Indian government is trying to abolish these rituals but its lack of conviction and public support becomes a hindrance. For some rituals people's perception is such that if done will wish away their problems. Also police inaction doesn't help either.

1) Baby Throwing

This age old ritual is performed in Solapur district of Maharashtra where babies are thrown from a height of more than 50 ft off to a cloth that is hand-held. Devotees believe that it will make their babies strong and healthy.

No they don't use staircase to take the child up its done in full military training style by tying the baby on the devotee's back.

The ritual is carried in front of a large crowd with police being a mute spectator to it. They also say that in its history no child has ever been injured.

In 2008, the local media took up the issue and it was reported across the world. There have been no followup reports since then of its banishment.

2) Thalaikoothal (Killing your own parents)

In the southern most part of Tamil Nadu, this horrific act of killing their own parents is done when the family cannot afford to take care of them.

This came in to news when 80 year old man escaped and took refuge in a relative's house. He came to know this when his children were deciding about how they will share the land after their father's death.

In this traditional practice of senicide the old aged person is at first early in the morning given an extensive oil bath, and the rest of day he/she is given several glasses of tender coconut water. Excessive tender coconut water given causes renal failure, fever, and ultimately death within a day or two.

In the name of rituals murders have been taking place for a long time.

Satyamev Jayate on Thalaikoothal

3) Fire Walking

This ritual is done in many places in India as an act of self purification. Men and women alike do this ritual for say getting married, having a baby, earning more money etc.

This ritual is not unique to India; fire walking is practised by people from various religions across the world.

Presently, fire walking seminars are used in corporate culture, though in a limited sense, as a confidence building exercise to boost self-confidence and to gather faith that an extraordinary task requires immense power and abilities. Fire walking is used as one of the many sureness enhancing methods.

Keeping the corporate culture aside, the reason for which it is carried in India, at least for me is just plain stupidity.

Want to make Guinness World Recod? Try Fire Walking

4) Girl marrying a dog

This is another bizarre ritual in India where a girl is married to stray dog to ward off bad omen. In 2003, a nine year old girl was married to a dog with guests dancing to the beating of drums which caught the attention of the local media.

Marriages of this kind have got covert social recognition in some parts of India, where people lack education and are accustomed to such practices. But it is hardly reported. The 2003 incident was the first that got reported which got tremendous media coverage and similar reports have emerged from different parts of India.

Read some of the similar marriages here:

One of Few Which Was Reported

5) Catching Elephants Tail

Will you ever catch an Elephants tail to fulfill your wish?

This is what happens in an age-old ritual at Shri Balasubramanya Swami temple in Kollum, Kerala.

Known as Aanaval Pidi, this is carried in presence of scores of people who try to catch an elephant tail to bring luck and prosperity. Elephants are an integral part of rites and ritual in Kerala.

This happens in the month of April/May and scores of tourist also line-up to experience it. Some call it animal abuse and some term it as utter lawlessness. I second both the opinions.

6) Baby Crushing Health Ritual

One of the most bizarre rituals around the world, where believers think that if the so called health guru crushes the baby with his feet will make their baby healthy. A person named Jamun Yadav does this ritual and people believe him.

A quick Google search will show some of the most disgusting pictures of this man crushing a child. If you are not faint-hearted then go and see it.

He was arrested and then released to the disgust of all.

7) Aghoris

Aghoris – the dead man eaters. What they do is they look for dead human bodies around the sacred waters of river Ganga and perform prayers and eat them. They are cannibalistic, drunkards and the most downhearted.

Life of a Aghori

8) Kneeling 10,000 times

Another bizarre ritual carried in the southern part of India is kneeling 10,000 times before getting married to the love of your life.

This takes place in a remote village in Virudhnagar district of Tamil Nadu. The act is known as thoppukaranam (kneeling and getting up). The bride and groom has to kneel 10,000 times in front of local temple of Jakkamma.

Reports say it is a recent ritual. It started some two decades before when a local soothsayer said that goddess Jakamma is offended by the recent eloping of couples. Hence, the ritual became a part of the village culture.

9) Lashing Women

Yet another dreadful and disheartening ritual of lashing women is carried out in the state of Tamil Nadu's Namakkal District. Supposedly it brings end to their illness and brings happiness.

10) Shoe Theft in Marriage

This last one is fun filled and it is done by sisters-in-law and they hide the shoes of their brother-in-law and return them only in exchange for money.

Hiding shoes of the groom is a common ritual in North Indian marriages
Hiding shoes of the groom is a common ritual in North Indian marriages

Which one is the most bizarre?

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    • kannanwrites profile image

      Kannan Reddy 5 years ago from Mumbai

      @Ruchira Yes disgusting. Thanks for the comment.

    • Ruchira profile image

      Ruchira 5 years ago from United States

      They sure are bizarre. Did not know of many of them...disgusting indeed. Dunno how we humans come up with the logic behind it.

      thanks for the enlightenment...voted up indeed!

    • ArvinD_ profile image

      ArvinD_ 6 years ago from a small planet where life exist called Earth

      Bet you were right Kannan. There are more dangerous rituals still exists in some parts of India. Eum not sure about other parts, but in Tamilnadu I've been seeing some crazy shit like this daily.

      Thanks for sharing and it was bit funny to see ritual no.10.

    • divacratus profile image

      Kalpana Iyer 6 years ago from India

      OMG! Some of the rituals are just bizarre. I'm from India but never was I aware of some of these practices. Thanks for sharing!