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TERRIBLE TRADITIONS – Bullet Ant Gloves, Brazil

Bullet Ant Gloves

There are certain rituals followed by some particular nation/tribe, which others may feel weird or shocking. The so called Bullet Ant Gloves of the  Satere-Mawe tribesman can easily be placed in the same category.

coming-of-age-bullet-ant-glove-weaving
Bullet Ant Glove Weaving

The young boys of the Satere-Mawe tribe of the Amazon in Brazil is to endure a very painful Initiation Ritual to be accepted as a grown up person by their community. When a young boy of the community becomes sexually mature, he goes out into the wilderness with the other boys of his age, along with the Medicine man, to find and gather bullet ants. The said particular  insect is supposed to be equipped with the most toxic sting in the world, which is compared to a bullet hitting the flesh. The boys gather the ants, put them to sleep by inducing the extract of some herbs given to them by the Medical man and place the drugged ants inside a woven mesh glove. When the trapped insects wake up, they become angry and aggressive. However, the boys put on those gloves containing dozens of ants and keep them on for about ten minutes, while they perform  a ritual dance to take their mind off the pain. This process of agonizing endurance continues for 20 times, before their adulthood is established.

Bullet Ant Gloves Festival 01
Bullet Ant Gloves Festival

Though the bullet ant’s sting is supposed to be 30 times more painful than that of a bee, according to the chief of the tribe, the ceremony is meant to show the men that a life without any sufferings or without any kind of effort, is not worth anything at all.

Bullet Ant Gloves Festival 02
Bullet Ant Gloves Festival
Dibyendu Banerjee
Dibyendu Banerjee
Ex student of Scottish Church College. Served a Nationalised Bank for nearly 35 years. Authored novels in Bengali. Translated into Bengali novels/short stories of Leo Tolstoy, Eric Maria Remarque, D.H.Lawrence, Harold Robbins, Guy de Maupassant, Somerset Maugham and others. Also compiled collections of short stories from Africa and Third World. Interested in literature, history, music, sports and international films.

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