The world is full of strange rituals and ceremonies, often unheard by most of us. Be it a Voodoo juju in Africa or a weird ritual of exhuming the dead and wrapping them in fresh clothes in Madagascar.
Rituals and traditional practices performed all over the world never fail to make our eyes pop and our jaws drop. It’s difficult to digest how insane and illogical a lot of these rituals sound to us but for those who follow them, it is as natural as breathing.
If you are consumed by the mysteries of fun facts, and strange religious beliefs give you a kick of new perspective, then you must read this further. We are not talking about foreign rituals here but of our own.
Uttarakhand is a state of festivals. The place is often called “The Land of God” (Dev-Bhoomi) because it is believed that every shingle and crag of this land hosts the God himself.
Let me take you through the strange journey of rituals performed in Uttarakhand:
1. Calling of Gods, Local Deities, and long Dead Ancestors
Ever heard of deities or ancestors possessing some pure soul for a short time to answer the questions troubled people are looking for. That’s what happens when a special prayer ceremony called Jagari is organized in the dead of the night by the special pujari where possessed people dance around a big blazing fire with strange music.
Sounds like a bonfire, but it isn’t. People who get possessed are transformed and even do impossible things like holding the burning coal with their bare hands. Without being burnt. No chemicals used.
Don’t believe me? Visit any old village and you can easily come across such poojas. In fact, you will be cordially invited, since it is open for all to witness.
2. Sacrificial Lambs
Making animal sacrifices is nothing new or unheard of but the way it is done in some of the temples of Uttarakhand, makes it stand out. Sometimes there are seven Goat sacrificed at once as a promised sacrifice to Goddess Mahakali.
Goddess Kali and most of the local deities and ancestors are presented with these offerings, in hopes of fulfilling wishes like marrying your daughter off in a good family or getting rid of some age-old ailment.
3. Offer a Sacrifice if you bear a son
More than mandatory to offer a sacrifice to all the deities who are your home-gods or isht devtas, if the person can afford it.
It is believed that it pleases them, and they offer their blessings in return for a long happy life of the child.
4. You forever carry your ancestors
Your ancestors are your responsibility even after they are dead for a hundred years. And no, not talking about the usual ceremonies performed on the day of their death.
Did you know they can be given to you as a dowry when you wed and go into another family? Astounding, isn’t it? There is more.
You have to take care of their temples, feed them and pray to them unless you have a daughter whom you can transfer the responsibilities. These are for those ancestors whose souls still linger around.
5. Fairies possessing pretty newlyweds
It is believed in Uttarakhand that if a young maiden or a newlywed woman is acting all weird, the fairies must have possessed them. These fairies come down on the highest peaks of snow clad regions and dance at noon.
And God forbid, if you happen to pass by and you are pretty, they take a liking to you and get stuck to you unless some witchcraft ritual is performed to detach them from your body.
I bet our pretty actresses should stay the hell away.
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6. Poking the stomach of a naughty child with hot rods
As much as this sounds appalling and primitive, locals swear by this remedy of straightening a naughty child.
I would like to die before I even think of doing something like this to my child or any child. But those are the rituals.
7. Stone pelting ceremony in Devidhura
During the preparation of Raksha Bandhan, this fate called Bagwal Mela is organized in Devidhura, where chosen few are made to fight by throwing stones at each other. Although the ceremony lasts just for about 20 minutes, but still?
The folklore behind is that earlier there was the tradition of Man-sacrifice to Goddess Barahi. The offering was mainly blood, which later turned into the blood sacrifice by stone pelting (thank God), which must be equal to the quantity of blood a man has in his body.
Sounds like paganism in Norse mythology, isn’t it?
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Well, this certainly will make you curious. Yes, Polyandry is practiced in a small group of followers of Pandavas in the lower regions of Himalaya, near Dehradun.
Since Draupadi had five husbands, they believe that if a girl marries the eldest brother, all the other brothers automatically become her husband. Sounds gross?
If she has sterility issues, only then the husbands can marry another woman. Well, this certainly gives her a lot of power over the whole family. Isn’t it?
The strangeness of this world never stops to overwhelm. You think you know it all and have seen it all, but then in some corner of the world, things are way different then you are used to knowing.