There is little doubt that India is one of the most fascinating countries in the world. Unique in its customs and traditions, take a trip there and you are guaranteed to return home with a story or two to tell. Below, we take a look at some of the most unusual Indian rituals:
Thimithi is a Hindu firewalking festival that originates from Tamil Nadu in southern India. Those taking part must walk barefoot across a pit of burning wood, or sometimes glowing charcoal. The act is carried out in honor of the Hindu goddess Draupati Amman; in respect of her, devotees have to walk slowly and steadily over the burning pit.
Read more about India: the land of diversity and colours
In some regions of India, animal weddings take place in the hope that the Hindu Rain God, Varun, will bring forth new life by blessing the dry land with showers. It has been reported that frog weddings take place in regions of Maharashtra and Assam, while donkey and dog weddings are also common. These weddings are official, with priests conducting the ceremony.
Varuna Yajna is a ritual carried out in places across Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Maharashtra. It involves Hindu temple priests immersing themselves in barrels filled with water in the hope that Varun will bring rain to the land.
Mane Snana is a religious practice which is carried out in many Hindu temples in Karnataka. The practice involves people rolling over food left over from the Brahmins, as it is believed that doing this will cure them of skin diseases as well as a range of other illnesses.
Pushkar Camel Fair
The Pushkar Camel Fair is a five-day event held every November in Pushkar, Rajasthan. Now a major tourist attraction, it sees more than 50,000 camels being dressed up, shaved, raced, traded and entered into competitions (including a beauty competition). It’s a real spectacle, with snake charmers, musicians and magicians all on hand to further entertain the crowds.
The festival of the KateelDurgaParameshwari Temple is an eight-day celebration that takes place every year during April. There are many performances which take place during this time; the most significant being Agni Keli. During AgniKeli, hundreds of bare-bodied Indians set palm fronds alight and throw them at one another in an aim to catch one another on fire.
There are lots of things you can do with a coconut… but you probably wouldn’t ever think about smashing one over your head! However, during the Aadi Festival, which is held every year in Tamil Nadu, devotees allow priests to smash coconuts across their head in the hope that it will bring them health and good fortune.
Intrigued by these unique and unusual Indian rituals? Fortunately, you don’t need to travel halfway across the world to get a taste of Indian culture: all you need to do is head down to one of London’s fine dining Indian restaurants. Rest assured that any coconut is strictly for use as an ingredient in the dishes…!