Top 10 Most Bizarre Practices in Ancient Cultures - Seeker's Thoughts

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Seeker's Thoughts

A blog for the curious and the creative.

Top 10 Most Bizarre Practices in Ancient Cultures

No matter if they seem strange or bizarre, ancient traditions will leave you puzzled and mystified. While some of them might seem outlandish to us, remember they're part of their culture and should be respected accordingly.

Credit:Genaro Servin

Some men in India perform rituals to assert their masculinity by puncturing their tongues with thorns; another tradition includes throwing newborn babies off temples.

1. Tibetan Monks Practice Self-Immolation

In Tibet, monks account for most self-immolators cases. Buddhists believe human life to be irreplaceable and view the body as the path toward enlightenment - so suicide is seen as a serious offense according to Buddhist doctrine.

Though it's difficult to comprehend why monks set themselves ablaze, scholars have attempted to explain their behavior. Here are a few theories on their actions.

2. The Yanomami Tribe Consumes the Dead

Yanomami culture does not practice traditional burial, instead opting to burn their dead and mix their remains with a sort of banana soup for consumption by the tribe as part of an elaborate ceremony designed to bring peace to their spirit after they have gone. It is thought that without completion of this ritual, their spirits cannot find peace.

Yanomami are known for using natural hallucinogens known as ebene to induce hallucinatory visions through inhaling it through a tube into their nostrils, creating an intoxicating experience which may produce hallucinatory visions of spirits that either attack or heal them. Warfare plays an integral part of their culture; men who win battles typically have more wives and children.

3. The Fore Tribe Performs Endocannibalism

Fore tribe in Papua New Guinea believed in eating flesh from their dead as part of a funeral ceremony to both honor them and gain from their wisdom.

Endocannibalalism differs from cannibalism for survival, which involves eating people who are hungry or sick; instead, this type of cannibalism is done as part of ritual and out of respect for those who have passed on.

In addition to eating body parts from their loved ones, the Fore also used bones in cooking as part of their culture - spreading deadly kuru prion (the same one responsible for CJD) throughout their tribe.

4. The Chinese Tribe Carry Their Pregnant Wife Over Coals

Women attempting to become concubines under Qing dynasty were required to go through elaborate rites of passage. For the purpose of conception, concubines would sleep with the Emperor on nights of full moon in order to conceive an heir.

5. The Tidong Tribe Forbids Newly Weds From Using the Bathroom for Three Days After Their Wedding

Tidong tribe in Indonesia has some unusual wedding customs. One is that grooms must first sing several love songs to their bride before being permitted to see her.

After their wedding day, couples are advised not to use the restroom for three days and nights afterward as breaking this tradition could bring bad luck such as an unhappy marriage, infidelity or the even the death of their children.

As part of an ancient Chinese custom, engaged couples cut open a baby chick to determine their wedding date.

6. Dani Tribe Amputating a finger

Dani people in Papua New Guinea practice an unusual funeral ritual by amputating the fingers of those they have lost as an act of affection and to ward off any harmful spirits that might threaten to take possession. 

Dani tribe members in Papua, Indonesia follow an odd tradition by cutting off part of their finger when someone close to them dies as an act of love and respect for the deceased. Once buried alongside their body, this ritual has now been banned nationwide.

While most grievers use crying and eating to express their sorrow, Dani tribe members from Papua New Guinea take it much further: during funeral services for deceased loved ones they will literally cut off their fingers to show how much they cared.

Becoming men can be challenging for the boys of Satere Mawe tribe. In order to do so, they must undergo an arduous right of passage that would send most American fathers running from them. Through Cobra Gold military training program - similar to an adult day camp - these boys must endure some pretty strange exercises before reaching maturity.

7. Puncturing the Skins

Zoroastrians hold that contact between dead bodies and living people pollutes everything around them; to counter this effect they use thorns to puncture patterns into their skin using puncture needles.

Some men in India perform rituals to assert their masculinity by puncturing their tongues with thorns.

8. The 'Cobra Gold' Military Members Perform Strange Exercises

Cobra Gold is an annual adult day camp for military members in the wilderness, where they train together by hunting cobras and drinking their blood, learning how to bite off chicken heads with teeth, and eating scorpions.

One such practice is Famadihana, where families dig up the graves of their dead relatives, wrap them in cloth again and dance with them before returning them to their graves - believed to bring good luck in the form of luck and prosperity for future generations. 

9. The Malagasy Tribe Dance With Dead Bodies

Malagasy tribe members commemorate their dead with an annual ritual known as Famadihana or "the turning of bones." Shrouded bodies are exhumed from family crypts, rewrapped in silk fabric and brought out for community festivities.

Music, food and dancing with corpses all take place during this ceremony to commemorate dead relatives and offer thanks for blessing their descendants with good fortune in life. Though numbers of Famadihana celebrations have dropped since fears that it might spread plague, many families continue to practice this ceremony to remember those they've lost and honor their ancestors' wishes for good fortune in future.

10. The Parents of Newborn Babies Drop Their Infants Off the Roof of a Shrine

As part of an unsettling ritual in India, parents throw their newborn babies from a roof onto an extended sheet held by villager. Parents believe this will bring good fortune and fortune for their child's future life.

"Getting laid" is one of the key rites of passage into manhood in Western culture, while for members of Peru's Satere-Mawe tribe it involves something far more painful - cutting off their fingers themselves! Warning: this video may contain graphic material.

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