1. Kill or get killed – Bani Festival, Andhra Pradesh
The Devaragattu Temple in Andhra Pradesh is home to one of the strangest rituals in the world. Every Dusshera, hundreds of lathi or stick wielding devotees gather at the temple to beat each other senseless! The devotees pound each others heads with sticks from midnight till dawn, as a mark of celebration and commemoration of the killing of a demon by Malla-Maleshwara. The ritual has been celebrated since a 100 years and every year, scores of people get injured. Just this year, 56 people were injured in Bani. Police and medical staff are deployed to take care of any wounds that might become life threatening.
2. Frog weddings in Assam and Maharashtra!
Yes, rains are a big deal to many people in the sub-continent. Our land is arid and most of our economies are dependent on agriculture. Hence, this has led the superstition-driven nation to committing unbelievable acts in order to appease ‘rain gods’. Villages across Maharashtra and Assam marry frogs in a bid to please rain gods into letting loose the heavenly showers! The marriage rituals are conducted with all the proper Hindu rights and ceremonial customs.
3. Be trampled by cows in Maharashtra
The Bhiwdawad village in Maharashtra is also home to one of the strangest customs in the world. Hindus consider the animal cow as sacred, hence the phrase has been coined ‘sacred cow’. Hundreds of villages gather one day after Diwali and voluntarily get themselves trampled by cows! The cows are decorated with flowers and colors. This ritual is observed after a five day fast and the whole village witnesses this spectacle. The Govardhan festival is celebrated on the occasion of Enadakshi, a day after Diwali
4. Smashing the coconuts on the heads in Aadi festival at Tamil Nadu
Every year, thousands of devotees flock to Tamil Nadu in a bid to have coconuts cracked on their skill! Yes, the devotees have a temple priest smash open a coconut on their skulls in a bid to be blessed by health and success from the Divine. Some take part in the ritual in order to offer their thanks to the deity if any special prayer or wish of theirs has been granted.
5. Tossing babies from the roof in Maharashtra
Baba Umar Dargah is notorious for this act which has been criticised by human rights organizations in the past. As a tradition for more than 700 years, Muslims and Hindus have their children tossed from a height of more than 50 feet, from the roof of a temple. The baby is caught by men downstairs holding a sheet.