India is so vast and diversified that every corner of the country has some stories. Even Indians don’t know each and every chapter of this amazing country. If we talk about the festivals of this country we end up talking some popular festivals. But even most Indians have no idea about some unusual festivals of this country.
India is a country of many religions, many tribals. So there are many unusual and strange festivals we don’t know. This rituals and celebrations cannot be explained to the world, these rituals have no logic but it doesn’t stop an explorer to explore the various traditions of the country.
Some of the strange festivals are
Bani Festival, Andhra Pradesh
During the Dusshera festival, lathi-wielding devotees across Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh assemble at the Devaragattu Temple in Kurnool to hit each other on the heads to celebrate the killing of a demon by Mala-Malleshwara (Shiva). This celebration continues till the break of dawn. The temple priest said this festival has been celebrated over 100 years. This year, 56 people were injured during the celebration. Policemen and medical attendants are deployed but they are mostly spectators. You may question how something could be a festival where someone is getting injured! But yes it is.
Madey Snana, Karnataka
One of India’s oldest problems is cast discrimination. This festival is one example of such practice. The Kukke Subramania Temple in Karnataka celebrates Madey Snana or Spit Bath. The lower caste people roll over the food leftovers of Brahmins on banana leaves, to get rid of different illness. In 2010, this practice was banned but it was lifted in 2011 after protests by the Malekudiya tribe. This controversial practice has been termed as a blind belief by the Karnataka Prevention of Superstitious Practices Bill (2013).
Dhinga Gavar, Jodhpur
Dhinga Gavar festival is a joyful event in Jodhpur. The local women dress up in various forms and they protect the statues of Dhinga Gavar which are decorated with gold. Once, Parvati (Gangur) had playfully teased Shiva by dressing up as a tribal woman. Gavar is the playful side of Gangaur. After the sunset, statues of Dhinga Gavar decorated with up to 30 kgs of gold. Women dressed in different costumes carrying lathis to hit people and protect the statues. It is believed that if any unmarried man comes near to these women and is stricken by the stick gets married soon.
Thimithi, Tamil Nadu
This unusual festival in Tamil Nadu held in between October and November. It is a fire walking ceremony which is carried out as a religious vow in exchange for blessings from Draupadi, the epic character of Mahabharata. During the occasion, devotees and drama troupes performed several scenes, like an act of imitation of the sacrifice of Hijra, prayers to Periyachi and bathing the Mariamman with milk. Also before the festival, there is a silver chariot procession to celebrate the victory of Pandavas.
Puli Kali, Kerala
This festival is celebrated mainly in Thrissur district in Kerala on the fourth day of Onam. Puli Kali is a form of folk art, dance, drama and music and it depicts the theme of tiger hunting. The train performers are painted like tigers and hunters in red, yellow and black colours and dancing to the beats of instruments like Udukku and Thakil. This festival is organised by the Pulikkali Co-ordination Committee and every year thousands of people gather to the street to experience the festival.
Bhagoriya Festival, Madhya Pradesh
This strange festival is held before Holi. It is organised in the district of West Nimar and Jhabua. It is a particular form of tribal marriage where young boys and girls are allowed to elope after choosing their partners. The boy of Bhil and Bhilala tribes puts red powder on the face of the girl whom he wants to marry. If the girl is also willing to marry that boy she puts the same red powder on the boy’s face. If the girl refuses, the boy is given another chance to win her heart.
Tossing infants from the roof for good luck, Maharashtra & Karnataka
This illogical and bizarre ritual is practiced in India over 700 years by both Hindus and Muslims. At Baba Umer Dargah near Sholapur in Maharashtra babies are dropped from a height of 50 feet and caught in a sheet held by men. This similar practice is also held at the Sri Santeswat Temple near Indi in Karnataka. This ritual is believed to bring prosperity to the family. The National Commission for Protection of Child Rights is investigating the cases but the organisers told no injuries have been reported until now.
Govardhan Puja, Madhya Pradesh
Govardhan Puja is celebrated on the occasion of Enadakshi, a day after Diwali. The villagers decorate their cattle with flowers, colours and henna. They lay down on the ground and allowing cows to trample over them. This ritual occurs after a five-day fast. The villagers believe by this ritual the gods answering their prayers.
Animal Weddings, Different parts of India
Animal weddings held in various villages in India to please the Rain God. In the villages of Assam and Maharashtra frog weddings take place. In Karnataka, donkeys are married and in some places, dog wedding occurs. All the Hindu marriage rituals are held in these big wedding and the marriage is performed by a priest.
Plucking hair by hand, Jain saints
Some communities like Jain, Buddhist believe in Moksha or redemption as the ultimate end of all human sufferings. Jain monks and nuns give up their worldly attachments by painfully pulling out each strand of their hair from their heads. The wounds then covered in dried cow dung ash to heal.
Ziro Festival, Arunachal Pradesh
This festival is named after the beautiful Ziro valley in Arunachal Pradesh. This is an outdoor music festival that showcases the independent music. The members of the Apatani people in Ziro hosted the festival and it continues for four days. There you can enjoy 24/7 uninterrupted music.
Garudan Thookam, Kerala
This shocking ritual is performed in Kerala’s Kali temples in Makara Bharani day and Kumbha Bharani day. The performers dress up as Garuda (the vehicle of Lord Vishnu who quenched the goddess Kali’s thirst with blood after slaying Darika the demon). After their dance performance, they hang like eagles or Garudan Thookam from a shaft by hooking the flesh on the backs. They are then taken around the city in a colourful procession.
Aoleang Festival, Nagaland
This festival in Nagaland is a big celebration of the Konyak tribe and celebrated in the month of April to welcome the New Year. It continues for 6 days. During the festival, the members of the tribe dress up in beautiful and colourful outfits and perform dances with folk songs. After the performance, there is a gigantic feast consisting of ethnic cuisine along with local rice beer. Chicken sacrifice is a part of the ritual and the future is predicted by the shape of the intestine.
Aadi Festival, Tamil Nadu
Thousands of devotees practice this bizarre festival at the Mahalakshmi Temple in Kanur district of Tamil Nadu. The devotees allow the priest to smash coconut on their heads for good luck and health. The ritual started during the British Raj. The British wanted to build a railway track across the temple but the villagers didn’t allow it. So the British dealt with the villagers that if they could break the stones on their heads the railway line would be changed. The villagers succeeded and since then the tradition has been followed.
Amongmong Festival, Nagaland
Amongmong Festival is the festival of togetherness. It is a harvesting festival of the Sangtam tribes and held in September from 1st to 8th of the month. The first three days are followed with the purchase and sale of domestic animals, the collection of vegetables and worship of the resident deities. On the fourth day, members congregate for the infrastructural development, folk music and dance. On the last two days, the villagers visit their family and friends followed by harvesting.
Really incredible India.