This list sums up 5 of the most bizarre festivals from around the world. So if you want to take this reading ride, let your imagination free and think of the wildest, craziest and the most unexpected stuff and yet I can to bet, you’d be left baffled. So fastened your seat belts, here we go round the world, down the past and through the traditions to uncover the mystery behind these kooky festivals.
- Naki Sumo- Japan’s Baby Crying Festival (Japan)
With the gong going *tong* in Tokyo’s Sensoji Temple, the floor starts thumping and the audience starts cheering for the two gargantuan sumo wrestlers who step inside the ring to battle it out in this annual event. Their task is to make their opponent’s associate cry. And their associates? Well, they are tiny little infants! Yes! The Japanese parents hand over their little ones to these sumo wrestlers so that the giants make them cry, in an effort to ward off evil spirits and bring good luck to these kids. And if the wrestlers fail to make the infants cry, then steps in the referee dressed up as horrifically as possible to make sure none of the infants break the 400-year-old tradition and leave with smiles on their faces.
- Cheese Rolling Festival (UK)
We all have heard of the Jack-n-Jill rhyme where Jack and Jill tumble down the hill. Recreate that image in your mind and imagine hundreds of men and women tumbling down a hill to catch a piece of round cheese. Hilarious? But it ain’t just a joke!
Your imagination comes true to life every May in Cooper’s Hill, Gloucestershire in the United Kingdom. The Cheese Rolling festival as it is called witnesses a number of people rolling down a steep hill to catch an officially tossed cheese. It certainly results in casualties and breaking of the bones, due to which children aren’t allowed to participate in it. They have an uphill race whereas men and women participate separately in the main event.
- La To-ma(ar)-tina: The Tomato Fight Festival (Spain)
It is Holi, minus the colors and water balloons. What the people use in this festival of Spain, to hit each other are ‘Tomatoes’!
Every year, on the last Wednesday of August, some 40-50 thousand people (78% of which are not locals), descend to the town of Bunol in Valencia and shower each other with tomatoes, in the honor of the Virgin Mary and St. Louis Bertrand. Technically the festival doesn’t start unless a brave soul scales a greased pole to capture a cooked ham. Once this is done, over 100 tons of tomatoes are dumped into the streets for throwing and water cannons are fired at the participants. The Festival witnesses women in white and men as shirtless to fight it out with each other. It is believed to be the ‘Biggest Food Fight Festival of the World’. And yes, you guessed it right, it is the same festival from the movie, ZNMD, where Hrithik silently shouted, “La-Tomato-maar-(Kat)-rina!”
India is the land of festivals and we have A LOT of them in our kitty. Our festival-packed calendar advocates for that. Thaipusam is a Hindu festival celebrated mostly by the Tamil, but it has an absolutely different definition of ‘celebration’.
This annual festival takes place in January/February to commemorate the birth of Lord Murugan, son of Shiva and Parvati. Worshippers shave their head and go for pilgrimage after which they pierce very sharp skewers through their tongues and cheeks! Some go the extent of putting hooks at their backs to pull heavy objects such as vehicles. The belief behind these practices is that the more they endure, the more blessings they get. Interestingly, though being a popular festival in India, its largest celebration takes place in Singapore and Malaysia where there’s a public holiday on Thaipusam.
- Dawat-e-Monkey: The Monkey Buffet Festival (Thailand)
For those of you who have seen The Forbidden Kingdom where Jet Lee played the role of the Monkey king, it’ll be a lot easier to digest the reason behind this annual festival of Thailand. After all, the movie displayed how great a warrior was the ‘Monkey’ King!
Every year, Lopburi in Thailand hosts a buffet festival for its macaque monkey population, who are thought to be the descendants of a ‘monkey warrior’. It is a belief of the locals that the macaque monkeys who live in a very (VERY) large number here, bring good fortune to them and thus must be honored (and served) well. Therefore, a grand (alright, a very GRAND) buffet festival is organized with over 2,000 kilograms of fruits, vegetables and other monkey friendly treats put on plates for these good-luck charms.