India is a merry land of colors and festivities. A festival is celebrated almost everyday, honoring various deities. Some of these festivals, old or new, are bizarre enough to scare off the populace attending, instead of enlivening their spirits! This article is about few “off the wall” festivals of India which would compel you to think twice before attending.
Location: South India
Thaipusam, celebrated in various cities of South India, Mauritius, Singapore and Malaysia, is one of the most eccentric festivals in the whole world.The dance ‘Kavadi Atta’ is performed as ceremonial worship of the God of war ‘Murugan’. The festival commemorates the occasion when Parvati gave Murugan a “spear” to vanquish Soorapadam, the evil demon.
Devotees shave their heads and set upon a pilgrimage while performing various acts of devotion such asinflicting immense pain upon themselves by piercing their cheeks, tongue or skin with vel skewers, sticking hooks into their back, pull larger burdens which reminds them of ‘Murugan’. The general belief is “greater the pain, greater is the merit earned”.
A large number of devotees flock to Palani (Tamil Nadu) to witness this festival and be a part of it, but to a non devotee, it would seem like a hideous masquerade of pain and torture. If you should decide upon attending this festival, you’re in for an outre festivity.
Location: Tamil Nadu
Again, belonging to Tamil Nadu, this is an ancient bull taming sport played during Pongal. It is based upon the basic human instinct of ‘fight, flight or freeze’. People here rear cattle, especially for this festival. The fact that the bull is not to be killed and no weapon is given to the matador during taming, makes this festival different from the traditional bull fighting game of Spain. The bull may be tied or free, and the matador is supposed to hold on to the hump of the bull for a certain distance to claim the prize.
Injuries and deaths are quite common in this game. While it provides an excellent spectacle for lovers of bull fights, it may prove fatal for the matadors.
Kila Raipur Sports festival
Location: Ludhiana, Punjab
Held in the month of February each year, Kila Raipur Rural Olympics is a competition of Punjabi sports like cart race and rope pulling. During this time, Ludhiana becomes the destination of various sports enthusiasts and foreigners. Animals like bullocks, camels, dogs, mules are bred especially for this event. These are also incredibly fatal games, as the images suggest.
Cobra Biting Festival
Celebrated during the month of August, this “daredevil” celebration is a part of the annual festival devoted to the deity ‘Mansa Devi’. Devotees have a particularly dangerous way of showing their faith. They allow themselves to be bitten by cobras.The interesting part is that they have to observe “Maun Vrat”, an oath of silence for the three days during which the festival lasts and even though they’re bitten, they are not supposed to make noise. Apparently they are protected against the venomous snake bites by a herbal medicine called “Eklavi”. Though, the tradition dates back many years, it is not known how it started.
It is needless to say that this festival deserves a place among the top bizarre festivals of India.
Maramadi (Bull Racing)
Bull racing is an agricultural spectator sport, held in Kerala for thousands of years during the post harvest season. It is the highlight of ‘Kakkoor Kaalavayal’ festival. Many districts participate in this event, which is held in specially prepared slushy tracks (kandams). Each pair of bull is guided by a group of three men.The air is full of excitement and competition during the games.
The intensity of these games can be imagined from the fact that they were banned for 5 years due to a petition filed by the Animal Rights Commission regarding cruelty towards animals.