Community is the essence of the humanity. All of us as social animals, possess the built-in need to interact and communicate with other humans. This urge exhibits itself in multiple ways. Our religion, culture and tradition play a major role in this aspect by bringing a lot of people together and binding them to similar opinions, ideas and beliefs. The following article focuses on a very specific part of this manifestation of social behavior by humans – festivals. Festivals are often occasions associated with cultural, communal or historical significance; they can be commemorative, days of mourning, days of thanksgivings, etc.
It is common knowledge that there are an uncountable number of different cultures, sub-cultures and counter-cultures that prevail among the 7.6 billion humans that inhibit the Earth. Every festival is unique in its own way as there are different kinds of customs that are attached with each festival. We are all acquainted with famous ones like, Christmas Trees, Easter Eggs, Hanukkah Candles, Colors of Holi, etc. But a huge plethora of cultures and customs also brings with it a significant amount of bizarre festivals.
Bizarre festivals are seen as those that are extremely non-conventional, are associated with weird customs and traditions that are not mainstream, or are probably unethical and are yet celebrated regularly attracting huge amounts of participation. They are in general festivals that do not seem to conform to the traditional ideas of festivals being related to something communal, historic, traditional etc. There are many such bizarre festivals, we are just highlight some major ones.
1. Yulin Dog Meat Festival
One of the most gross and highly condemned festivals on the planet fall in this list, the Yulin Dog Meat Festival. The festival is notorious for its promoters killing more than 10,000- 15,000 dogs over a span of 10 days every year as part of the festival. The festival is highly criticized by animal rights and welfare support organizations due to its distorted and cruel nature. There have been spine-chilling reports about dogs being bred and slaughtered specifically for the Yulin Festival. The tradition of dog meat consumption began over 4000 years ago in China. Chinese practitioners of folk medicine believe that dog meat would help ward off the heat felt through the summer months. This festival is celebrated around mid-summer and has always been seen as a reason for controversy and concern to animals and the environment.
2. Shinto Kanamara Matsuri
The most bizarre festival out of the lot, is the Japanese Shinto Kanamara Matsuri (Translating to ‘Festival of the Steel Phallus’). This festival is held annually at the Kanayama Shrine in Kawasaki, Japan. As the name suggests the festivals involves a lot of obsession with phallus-shaped objects and involves a lot of street processions and novelties associated with penises. A lot of participants are seen riding phallus-shaped street carts and eating phallus shaped lollipops and other delicacies. As far as the story goes, the festival honors a mythical blacksmith who would make a phallus of steel to break the teeth of the demon that bit off penises of young men on their wedding nights. The shrine where the festival is carried out is also known to be frequented by prostitutes who wish to receive blessings so that they do not contract sexually transmitted diseases. The festival is also used as a reason to promote HIV research in Japan. Strange no?
3. Baby Jumping Fiesta
Besides the following two, there are many other festivals of this nature which have received both criticism and ridicule worldwide. Some of these include the Baby Jumping Fiesta held in Spain which involves many grown up men and women jumping over infants lying on mattresses for fun and excitement.
4. Up Helly Aa Festival
Also there are festivals like the Up Helly Aa festival from Scotland that involves people dressing up as Vikings and set all their surroundings on fire.
It is a fire festivals held annually in the Shetland Islands of Scotland, in the middle of winter to mark the end of the yule season.
5. Busos Festival
There is also the Busos festival in Argentina where the participants dress up as Devils and try to chase away the winter from their country wearing masks carved out of willow and dyed with animal blood.
It can easily be concluded that with varying thoughts and cultures we see a huge amount of weird and bizarre activities. While not all of them are wrong or need to be stopped, some are unethical and serious steps should be taken against them.
When it comes to such festivals we can choose to participate, ignore or laugh at the weird festivals for after all they are all part of human culture and are something that a collective of humans wants to celebrate together as a community. We must not take away the right to practice traditions and customs from any community at any cost.