A festival is an event which is usually staged by a local community. It usually centers on a unique aspect (culture, beliefs, local products) of that particular community. Most festivals are marked by merry-making and celebrations. Others capture the interest of people from all over the world because of their uniqueness and social relevance. A few festivals, however, are a lot harder to understand. Here are ten of the world’s strangest festivals.
1. La Tomatina – Spain
Every last Wednesday of August, around 60,000 residents and tourists gather in Valencia,Spain to participate in what could possibly be the biggest food fight in the world. No,they do not hurl burgers or pizza slices at each other. They use thousands of big, ripe tomatoes, instead. That’s basically the only thing that they do – throw tomatoes at each other until the town is drenched in tomato juice. No real explanation as to why La Tomatina exists. But I have a feeling that they do it simply because they can.
2. Thaipusam – India
Thaipusam is a annual festival observed by the ancient Tamil community in India. Held on a full moon day in January or February, Thaipusam is celebrated to commemorate how Goddess Parvati gave Murugan a spear to defeat an evil demon. Of course, if you’retaking about higher beings using spears and other pointed objects, there is no way that devotees aren’t going to follow suit. After taking a bath, fasting, praying, and shaving their head, devotees go right ahead and pierce their tongue, cheeks, chest, back, and even their stomach with hooks and other pointed objects. Then, they try to pull heavy tractors using the hooks which pierce their flesh. Ouch!
3. Lechon Festival – The Philippines
Another festival that involves making fun of something that we put in our mouth is this peculiar parade in the Philippines called Parada ng Lechon (Parade of Roasted Pig).Residents of Balayan in Batangas take to the streets to parade the ‘best looking’ roasted pigs. When the roasted pig is ready to eat, the residents of Balayan place them in colorful floats and dress them like popular personalities, super heroes, and politicians. After the parade, the residents celebrate further by eating these dressed-up lechons. Weird!
4. The Devil’s Jump – Spain
In El Colacho, Spain, a unique and strangely scary tradition takes place each year. Held to celebrate the Catholic festival of Corpus Christi, The Devil’s Jump is held in the streets of El Colacho to rid the town’s infants of evil spirits. Just how exactly do they do this?Pretty simple, actually. Babies, some just a few weeks old, are placed on a mattress on the street. Then, adults wearing Elvis-like costumes just jump carelessly over these babies. Incorrect landing would most certainly crush a young child’s skull. But, they do not think about that part. They just want bad spirits to leave their kids alone.
5. Fiesta of Near Death Experiences – Spain
Another Spanish festival that makes you want to shriek in pure terror is slightly more out-of-this-world. The Fiesta of Near Death Experiences, which is held every 29th of July, is a festival for people who have had a near death experience and managed to kick death in the face. At around ten in the morning, these ‘survivors’ are paraded through the streets in a, wait for it, coffin! What makes this more fun is that family members of the survivor are expected to carry the coffin during this parade. And, (this one is very important)survivors with no family members or friends, are expected to carry their own coffin during the parade. Isn’t that just sad?
6. Holi Festival – India
One of the biggest and most popular festivals in India is the Holi Festival. The festival,which is celebrated every March, marks the arrival of Spring which symbolizes happiness and hope. In Hindu tradition, it commemorates the times Krishna (incarnation of Vishnu)spent with the cowgirls. Using colored powder called gulal, Indians take to the streets and spray colors on passersby and other revelers. Celebrants of the Holi Festival also throw water at other celebrants, light bon fires, sing and dance, and exchange greetings.
7. Gotmar Festival – India
Some of the world’s most peaceful and innocent festivals can be found in India.Incidentally, India also has some of the world’s most violent ones. Take the Gotmar Festival, for example. The Gotmar fair is held every year in Pandhurna. According to legend, the king of Pandhurna once abducted the princess of Sawargaon. The king was successful in his quest. However, as they were crossing the river to get back to his palace,the people of Sawargaon realized what happened and began hurling stones at them. The king’s people saw what happened and they retaliated by throwing back. You probably know where this story is headed. The Gotmar Festival is a stone-throwing festival whose aim is to knock as many people down as possible. Every year, about 800 people get seriously injured because of this festival.
8. Vegetarian Festival – Thailand
If you’re thinking that this next festival is all about food, then you’re wrong. The Vegetarian Festival of Phuket, Thailand has nothing to do with vegetables. At all. During this festival (held every September,) devotees do ‘strange’ things to shift the evils from their community into themselves. In short, they suffer for the sake of those who do not care at all. So, just how strange is ‘strange?’ Nothing really fancy, really. Devotees just walk on burning charcoal, pierce their cheeks with knives and skewers, or climb a ladder with sharp blades.
9. Onbashira Festival – Japan
If you hear the word ‘weird,’ the word ‘Japan’ is surely just a few inches away. Every seven years, Japan celebrates the Onbashira Festival. This festival, which literally means ‘the honored pillars,’ is celebrated to renew the Suwa Grand Shrine. Renewing this particular shrine involves a few not so usual rites. Participants cut down huge trees and drag them towards the shrine. The logs are usually dropped down steep slopes.During this ceremony, young men participants are given a chance to prove their bravery and worth. Just how do they do this? Simple. They ride the logs down the hill. Getting crushed or losing a limb is never an issue for these young lads. Bravery. That’s what matters.
10. Boryeong Mud Festival – South Korea
Every summer, South Korea celebrates one of the strangest festivals in the world – The Mud Festival. The festival, held in the town of Boryeong since 1998, attracts at least two million people. Now, what happens during a mud festival, exactly? Well, first, mud which is taken from the Boryeong mud flats, is placed on a particular beach. Then,immediately at the start of the festival, participants get to throw mud and just have a blast.That’s basically it.