Most Bizarre Festival
Just as the rest of the world moves forward into the online digital world, there are still various classical traditions from centuries past that retain their popularity with the new younger generation of people. Every year thousands of people gather to take part in festivals even as some of these traditions are strange and unusual. While they are all extremely different, they have one thing in common: they are totally weird but they have continued to grow in popularity. With its colorful local cultures and numerous differing locales, the region of Asia is filled with such festivities.
Here are some of the best for your perusal, be sure to check them out when you visit next time!
Phuket Vegetarian Festival – Phuket, Thailand
Probably the most fascinating and also somewhat gruesome festivals in the world, the Phuket Vegetarian Festival is best known for its aesthetic displays of unusual body piercings. You may see devotees with tire irons through their cheeks, or large spikes driven through their tongues. The festival is held for just over a week annually during the ninth lunar month of the Chinese calendar, falling somewhere in October. This year 2011. it runs from the 27th of September to 5th of October.
The Phuket Vegetarian Festival and its rituals are thought by many to bring good fortune to religious followers. Phuket residents of Chinese ancestry, called Hokkien Chinese, follow a strict vegan or vegetarian diet for 10 days for the purposes of merit-making and spiritual cleansing. This is accompanied by sacred rituals at Chinese temples and shrines around the island. Stalls of vegan food are set up throughout Phuket City, and even non-vegans will be suitably impressed by the delicious selection.
The festival started in 1825 the participants are not allowed to eat meat or have sex at the time of the festival. For obvious reasons participants are asked to use only sterile blades, spears and guns. According to physicians there is a risk of HIV and hepatitis.
Perhaps the most visual of these rituals are the displays of extreme body piercings with large objects that can range from knives to umbrellas. Devotees, called ma song, may even partake in walking over hot coals barefoot or climbing up ladders that have rungs made of knife blades. Visitors can see the ma song walking in their trances during long parades through the streets on every day of the festival.
Monkey Buffet Festival – Lopburi Province, Thailand
No, we’re not monkeying around. There really is a monkey festival just for monkeys every year in Thailand. Lopburi, in Thailand, is famous for its long-tailed macaque monkeys who roam freely throughout the town. Locals believe that the monkeys bring good fortune, and thus an annual feast is held in their honor.
In the yearly Monkey Buffet Festival, these fearsome animals are invited to the Pra Prang Sam Yot temple and offered foods ranging from fruits, biscuits to coke. Some of the treats are even encased in blocks of ice to give the monkeys some entertainment before their treat. Over 2,000 kg of fruits and vegetables are offered to the attending guest monkeys. The Monkey Buffet Festival is held every year on the last Sunday of November.
Songkran Festival – Thailand
Songkran is essentially the world’s biggest water fight. Friends and strangers splash each other with hoses, water balloons and even water guns. Originally the sprinkling of water was more ceremonial, but it’s since become a wet and wild celebration that lasts 3-10 days, depending on what part of Thailand you’re in. The Songkran Festival , is a really fun event to attend, and quite refreshing. Happening during Thailand’s hottest month of April.
Cutud Lenten Rites – San Fernando, Pampanga, Philippines
Prayer of a different meaning during the Lenten season, when villagers of San Pedro, Cutud engage in the act of self-flagellation. This ancient ritual is performed in the morning of Good Friday during the Holy Week. Backs, arms, and legs are cut and then struck with burillo whips. The climax to this occasion happens at midday, when penitents are literally nailed to their waiting crosses.
The San Pedro Cutud Lenten Rites is a Holy Week re-enactment of Christ’s Passion and Death. It includes a passion play culminating with the actual nailing of at least three penitents to a wooden cross atop the makeshift Calvary. Some devotees, offered themselves for crucifixion every year. Catholics from all lifestyles come to this annual event for different reasons, though usually for the atonement of their sins.