Birthdays, Christmas, a cup of tea in the morning, a Full English after a heavy night – we all have rituals that we adhere to religiously. But we’ve come across some traditions are even odder than waiting for a fat bearded man to deliver wrapped gifts down your chimney while you wait next to an indoor tree that you’ve covered in glittery jewellery. Well, put like that, it does sound a bit weird. But we’ve found some even stranger rituals; from the painful to the profane, hilarious to the horrible it would appear that whether you’re from Galapagos or Gambia, Thailand or Tehran, the desire for a bit of tradition is universal!
The Borneo Bathroom Ban
As bizarre as it is alliterative, this particular ritual can be found only within the confines of The Tidong tribe of Borneo. Putting our boring old ‘something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue’ adage right in the shade, for the three days and three nights following the wedding, both the bride and groom are banned from using the bathroom. Yep, you guessed it, that means no urinating, no defecating, and no bathing. Well there’s a first night contraceptive if we ever heard of one. They believe that the custom will lead to a long, happy, and fertile marriage. In order to achieve this, the newlyweds are only allowed to eat and drink miniscule amounts and are watched very closely by family members. In the hope of preserving a shred of romance, one would hope that after the three days have passed, the newlyweds would spend an extended period of time apart to tend to their outstanding erm…business. Nice!
Blackening the Bride, Scotland
Another bridal tradition, but this time much closer to home! To prepare a woman for her impending marriage, brides-to-be in certain Scottish towns must go through a particularly messy pre-wedding ritual. Friends of the bride take her out into a public place and cover her with eggs, off milk, feathers or basically anything that you wouldn’t want to be shoved in your face given the choice. The so-called ‘blackened bride’ is then made to parade around town in all her finery. The main purpose of this custom is to prepare the bride for marriage because in theory, the problems of married life should seem a breeze in comparison. Those clever Scots!
Bangkok Monkey Buffet Festival, Bangkok
The provincial capital of Lopburi in Central Thailand is home to countless monkeys that have adapted to life in an urban environment. Seeing as they’re only one step behind us on the evolutionary chain, it seems only fitting that they should be given a few human treats from time to time! The festival sees a huge table laid out in front of the Lopburi Temple in Bangkok, which is then covered in food for the monkeys. The monkeys have become such a part of the local culture that the locals thought it only to give them a banquet fit for a King (of the apes)
Sati Culture, India
It has come to our attention that quite a few of these customs seem to revolve around the holy union of marriage, and this one is no exception! In India, there was a highly controversial custom that incredibly was last reported to occur as recently as 1987! Upon their husbands dying, women were taking it upon themselves to throw themselves on the funeral pyre upon which their deceased spouse burned, essentially burning themselves alive. This was supposed to reflect the sanctity and purity of the bond shared between the couple and made the woman, in the eyes of her community, a ‘goddess’ of sorts. This has been widely criticised in western civilisation as it is seen to represent the view that a woman is a useless commodity without the support, financial or otherwise, of her husband.
Tibetan sky burial
In this Tibetan death ritual, the human corpse in question is cut in specific locations and placed on a mountaintop, exposing it to the elements or the mahabhuta and animals – especially to birds of prey. The majority of Tibetans adhere to Buddhism, which teaches rebirth. In the Buddhist way of thinking, there is no need to preserve the body once death has occured as it is now an ’empty vessel’, for it is the soul that makes the person. Whether attacked by animals or decomposed by the raging elements, the function of the sky burial is simply the disposal of the remains of the body and in reality the custom has no real emotionally cathartic purpose for those who practice it.
If you know of any other weird and wonderful world traditions we’d love to hear about them!