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10 Bizzare Cultural Practices Around The World

world's most strange cultures
Written by Solomon Unoke

Cultures and traditions vary from tribe to tribe, but there are some that are shocking to non-native or a bit inconveniencing to the tribe people themselves.

Solomon Unoke

Anthropologists and other social scientists are in awe of some cultural practices around the world. Some of these cultural practices are only slightly weird and uncomfortable, while some are downright straight out of a horror movie about the dead.

1. The neck rings of the Kayan of Thailand and the Ndebele of South Africa: Though the two tribes are of different races and several thousands of miles apart, they share a pivotal aspect of their cultures which affect not just their physical appearance, but raise a concern for the health of their female folks.

The Thailand’s Kayan women are known to wear stacks of several brass rings around their necks, which usually seem to lengthen their necks. The Ndebele womenof South Africa also have similar cultural attire which seems to serve the same purpose, which is to beautify the woman. At least this is the most common believe about this odd practice.

Longer necks are associated with beauty, and this seems to be one of the reason these women don these ornaments. In the Ndebele practice, the husband of a new bride gifts these rings to his wife who has to wear them until demise as a seal of faithfulness to her partner. However, the Ndebele woman is known to also wear these rings on their arms and ankles. For them, it serves the same purpose as the wedding rings in modern western cultures.

Another common theory floating around is that the reason behind this practice is to protect the women from animal attack. Some people believe the rings were initially fashioned as a means to ensure the survival of predators like tigers and bears who so frequently will grab their prey by the neck and then dig their long fangs into their necks, severing vital arteries, which is a more effective way to kill.

There is however an adverse effect to this practice. In some cases, women wear as many as 20 or 30 rings on their necks which give the look of a much longer neck by pushing down the collar bone and compressing their chest and lung in what is ultimately a dangerous feat just to achieve a standard of beauty.

2. Dropping babies from a 30ft plunge in India: Is one of the weirdest and probably most cringe practices in the world involving babies and the absolute terror of the mother.

The 700-year-old ritual in Maharashtra and Karnataka in India supposedly started at a time in India when there was a high rate of child mortality. As the story goes, during these periods a saint told the people whose children were dying to build a shrine to the gods and drop these babies from the roof as a symbol of absolute faith in the deity.

Legend has it that a Hammock-like sheet appeared mid-air and cradled the babies, after which they were healed miraculously. The practice was famous in these parts until 2009, when a circulating video drew the attention of the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights investigated the daring practice and ordered that child tossing be stopped.

It is believed that this ritual is still practice in some remote parts of India till this day. However, rather than hoping that the child be saved by the gods, people stand on the ground below with stretched out sheet to capture the baby.

3. Cutting off fingers in the Dani Tribe in mourning: Different people around the world grieve the loss of their loved ones in very unique ways. While in some tribe, the mourners are clothed in black dress, the people of Dani tribe in Indonesia took it one step further, they cut off parts of their fingers. When a member of the tribe loses a loved one, a rope is tied tightly around one of their fingers until it becomes numb, then a family member, who could be a sibling or a parent has to cut off the top part of the finger.

The exposed part is then burnt to stop the bleeding and prevent infection. This practice symbolizes the pain of losing a loved one, and a sign for oher people to know what they have been through.

4. The monkey banquet festival of Thailand: Once every year, on the first Sunday of November the people of Lopburi in Thailand throw an insanely large party with a variety of foods and all you can eat. The only issue is, the foods are for monkeys and no human is invited to taste of this food spread.

At the Phra Prang Sam Yot temple, a special ritual of feasting is done in honor of the macaque monkey species, which are believed to bring good luck to the land and its people.

To honor these sacred monkeys, dancers and performers dress in monkey costumes to put on a show of amusement for the crowd, followed by heaps of all sorts of fruit and vegetables for the monkeys to climb, jump and enjoy.

5. Feeding the dead in Rome: Apparently, it is not only the living that needs sustenance, Romans believe the dead should also be fed. In a bizarre tradition among the Romans, a liberation tube is built into the graves of diseased family members, through which liquids like wine, honey or even beer is poured to feed the dead.

This practice is said to be have originated as a way to appease the dead whom they think might have not forgiven then for a misdeed that might have happened while they were still live. Some other people who aren’t afraid the dead might still hold grudges, can also participate in the tradition as a way to show care for their diseased loved ones.

It is believed that the dead consumes this sustenance through their bones and ashes. This practice believed to have originated in Egypt, where liberation is poured on the grave of the dead, but it is hard to pin point where exactly it started, since wine poured on ground cannot be traced after such long periods.

6. Eating ashes of the dead:The Yanomamo tribe, found in both Brazil and Venezuela are known to eat the ashes of their dead, as a way to remember them forever. They believe that in order to keep their diseased loved ones close to their hearts; they need to consume a part of their body so that they carry them everywhere they go. After all, no one wants to be forgotten, but since their law forbids them to keep the bodies of the dead, a dead relative’s body is burnt, and the ashes shared amongst the living relatives to ingest.

7. No bathroom use for newly-wed 3 days: The Tidung people of Indonesia are known to still adhere to a practice for newly wedded couples, which forbid them using the bathroom for three days.

The tribe believes that if a new couple was to shower or relieve themselves within the first three days of their marriage, it could lead to serious problems and unhappiness. Therefore, newly wedded couples are monitored by family members for the first 3 days to ensure that neither of them breaks out to take a shower or at least use the toilet to relieve the bowel. Imagine stinking or holding in farts from your partner for 3 whole days, how long could you last?

8. Keeping the dead fresh around: The Toraja people of Indonesia learn to cope with death from a very young age, in fact kids under the age of two are already quite familiar with the concept of death even if they don’t yet understand it. The Toraja people are known to mummify their dead and keep them in a separate cozy room for a very long time. These bodies are cared for daily, they are fed, clothed and provided for, just like the living.

They believe that when a person dies, their spirit hangs around in the house, therefore their bodies are preserved as well as possible, which is quite hard because bodies generally begin to decompose within 3 days. To prevent this, the corpse is coated in formaldehyde and water, but the stench is so great that the family store dead plants near the body to mask the odour, incense burning is also used.
It is believed that a family that preserves the bodies of their dead very well experience good fortune, and for others, it is a way to properly prepare for the burial of a loved one who might have died unexpectedly, or just to hold on a little longer when you are not quite ready to say goodbye.

9. Carrying a pregnant woman over hot coal: this is part of the Chinese prenatal culture.
In that country it is believed that a pregnant woman would have a safe and easy delivery if her husband shares the pain. And to share the pain of childbirth with the woman, a man has to carry his pregnant wife and walk barefooted over red hot coal laid out of the floor.
This is still widely practice today, but as to its efficiency, there is doubts in some quarters.

10. Foot binding in China: Beauty standards have changed quite a bit over the centuries. In China, having a small feet is a sign of beauty, and to achieve this, young girls were made to have their foot fastened by bandages which keep them at the same size over a long time. Normal feet got reduced by about 3inches and this created a wave of health issues like sepsis and paralysis, due to broken bones in their feet.
This culture has since been stopped by the government.

About the author

Solomon Unoke

Solomon is a writer science fiction, romance and website contents who's passion revolves around works of creativity and vivid imaginations.

"Walls, trees, the sands and the seas, all of nature is a witness to the stories of our lives and of thousands of lives that came before us. Whispers heard in the winds, and the chirping of the birds on the trees, are stories begging to be heard and experiences that wants to be relived. Our stories keep the planet alive."

1 Comment

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