Ignorance is bliss as long as we are not confronted with the truth. But till the knowledge of truth arrives, superstitions and absurd rituals appear to be the answers of things that humans fail to explain or simplify. While some of these bizarre rituals have become obsolete, others are very much in existence. Here are five 5 such bizarre and strangest rituals throughout the human history that would terrify you.
1. Young boys drinking semen of elders
Certain civilized masculine sections of human society practice sexual abstinence for a considerable period of time to retain and contain semen within themselves. They believe that it makes them powerful. In India, it is called brahmacharya.
On the contrary, there are tribes such as Sambia, Etoro, Marind-anim, Jacquai and Keraki in Papua New Guinea, where the same seminal fluid is infused into the body of male kids consistently, for several years. These tribes are under the assumption that sperm does not even generate in men, unless and until it is externally infused. There are two kinds of infusion they practice. One is anal intercourse and another is oral discharge.
Some of the tribes mentioned above follow the habit where the father ejaculates semen into the boy’s anus from the age of 6 years until 16 or 17. In a few other tribes, boys are given away to their maternal uncles for a number of years, for prolonged periods of anal intercourse. These boys return to their fathers once they become adults. This, they believe, makes the boys strong enough to fight other tribes in the neighborhood. Some other tribesmen think drinking semen of stronger men make them mighty.
Though incest-homosexuality is looked upon as a heinous crime in today’s civilized world, there still are primitive societies like these, which perform such activities as sacred rituals!
2. Ullamaliztli, the ball game where the punishment for losing was death
The ancient game called Ullamaliztli or the Aztec ball game was a fierce Mesoamerican game played by several people that included the Mayans. In this unique game, two stone rings were carved out of walls on either ends of a play court and players were asked to pass a 4 kg equivalent rubber ball through the hoops.
The rules were such that they could not drop the ball on to the ground and have to pass it from one player to another, within the team. Two teams used to fight each other. The game used to be played so intensely that the players would bleed severely, despite covering their vital parts and other highly exposed blow taking surfaces of the body with thick animal skin.
This game didn’t just stop at entertainment. They were played for political reasons too by betting anything and everything. This game was also used to settle differences between parties and even to assassinate the opponents.
Strange rituals were conducted wherein, sacrificing blood playing the game was considered a sacred ritual. Staining temple stairs with blood shed by playing the game was a common practice. At times the entire losing side along with its coach used to be sacrificed!
3. The now outlawed practice of sati
In ancient India, or even until a century ago, the husband used to be treated as a living god by the wife. This germinates from the understanding that focusing her emotional energy completely in one direction would liberate her from the cycles of birth and death. The easiest access to have a unidirectional emotional destination is her husband.
The emotional upwelling she used to brew within herself catapulted to such a peak that she used to experience her husband as a part of herself, though, living in another body. When the object of devotion, i.e., her husband, dissolved or gave up his body, she had the freedom to dissolve herself with him, as a matter of choice.
Sati was an ancient Indian practice where women in India had the choice of immolating herself in the sacrificial pyre, where her dead husband was about to be cremated. This practice, over a period of time, became merely ritualistic.
When woman lost her position in the society, this practice reached inhuman levels, where she was compelled to enter the pyre, without any choice. When child marriages were too prevalent, it used to happen that a girl child married to an old man was forced to enter the pyre, even though she had not yet attained her puberty.
With the efforts of reformers such as Raja Ram Mohan Roy in the 19th century, the practice of Sati was abolished in India by the then British government! It was perhaps one of the very few things that the British got right in India.
4. Wife squeezing testicles of husband during childbirth to share the pain
While castration is seen as a punishment to infuse fear in the hearts of violent rapists, there are certain native matriarchal societies in Mexico, which follow a strange practice of squeezing the husband’s testicles while the wife is giving birth to a child.
Here, ropes are tied around the husband’s scrotum while he sits on the roof and the loose ends are held by his wife when she is delivering. Every time she feels intense pain during labor, she pulls the ropes to make her husband suffer the pain she is suffering. She also apparently screams ‘This is your fault, you fu*king assho*e”. At the end of the childbirth, his testicles would’ve become the size of cantaloupes. The whole idea behind this activity is to make the husband realize and experience the pain of childbirth that she undergoes!
Couvade Syndrome or sympathetic pregnancy is the closest medical condition in civilized societies that can be drawn as a parallel to the above practice. This syndrome occurs more out of empathy and stress wherein the father experiences nausea, mood swings, insomnia and so on which commonly occur when a woman undergoes different stages of pregnancy!
5. The Indonesian group of people who digs up their dead every year
Ancient Egyptians used to preserve the dead in huge pyramids by using salts and oils. This was their ritual towards the dead. The practice stems from the belief in the life after death. Mummies buried several thousand years ago, unearthed recently, showed minimal signs of decay. However, they never pulled out the dead to re-dress or deck them up!
Here is a group of people called the Torajan, living in the Tana Toraja regions of the Sulawesi mountains in Indonesia who would exhume their loved ones from the earth once in a year to dress them up with fresh clothes. They do this to show their love and affection towards the dead. As a part of their bizzare rituals sometimes the dead are not buried immediately. Especially, when the rituals are expected to be elaborate and lavish, they wrap the bodies with several clothes so that they do not decay for a long time. Rituals are performed as and when they find enough money. Until then, they do not bury the dead.
They believe that the spirits of the dead in their village will always return to the village of its origin and they never leave their village fearing that it may stop them from returning to the village, just in case they died elsewhere.
Are you aware of any such bizarre rituals?