India is a complex country that is made up of diverse beliefs and customs, some of which are centuries old.
While we may know some of the more popular customs, here are some of the more unusual and unheard customs from there.
1. Children buried up to their necks to cure disability
Don't try this at home, folks. Some parents in North Karnataka believe that their children were born disabled because of the negative effects of a solar eclipse. In 2009, during the long solar eclipse of the century, parents went to Saath Gumbaz in Mominpur and buried their children up to their necks in mud that was thought to be holy and have healing properties. It seems like some parents were satisfied with the result, one parent claimed that his son was healed of a physical disability that he was born with.
2. Food rolling
A rather controversial one because the Indian government has been trying to ban this on account of its violation to human dignity but the practitioners are resisting the ban. In the Kukke Subrahmanya temple in South Karnataka, devotees roll on the food scraps thrown by the Brahmin priests. The 'made snana' is believed to have magical powers to cure and protect the devotees from skin diseases, infertility or family curses. It is only practiced by the lower castes.
In 2012, the government came up with a compromise solution – stop 'made snana' but have the temple allow 'ede snana' which is the "bathing" in the offering to the deity. The Karnataka High Court backed the government but the Supreme Court stayed the order.
3. Frog marriage
Another unusual one from Karnataka, this ritual is called Mandooka Parinaya' and was performed by the locals in Udupi recently because they believe it will end the severe draught.
Two frogs - a male and a female - were brought from two different villages and elaborate arrangements were made with over hundred guests attending the ceremony. The frogs, in fact, were dressed in custom made outfits for their wedding while the ceremony was performed as per Hindu traditions.
"The wedding of male frog "Varun" from Kalsanka and female frog namely "Varsha" from Keelinje near Kolagiri was performed as per the Hindu tradition," said one of the organisers. After their wedding, the frogs were sent to Mannapalla, near Manipal, for their honeymoon.
4. Men dress up as women to worship Goddess Bhagavathy
The famous Chamayavilakku is a unique festival held at the Kottankulangara Sree Devi Temple in Kerala where men dress up as women to offer prayers to the Goddess Bhagavathy, worshipped as 'Swayam Bhoo'(Self Origin).
During the festival night, these 'women' holding traditional lamps and walk in procession to the temple to the accompaniment of the traditional orchestra. It falls on the 10th and 11th of the Malayalam month Meenam (Mid-March).
5. Men trampled by cattle
In villages around the Ujain region, in Madhya Pradesh, men lay down on the ground and have their cattle trample all over them, as part of an ancient ritual. The whole village gathers in the streets to witness the painful event that they believe will make the Gods answer their prayers.
"This is a traditional festival observed during Ekadashi fast after which the entire village's cows are made to run over men lying on the ground. We worship the cows before the ritual and also fast for five days and sing hymns during the festival," claimed the villagers who also assured that in the centuries since it's been taking place on a yearly basis, no one has ever been injured, or even scratched.
Source: Times of India, Scroll India, Kerala Culture, NDTV, Albawaba,
Photo Credit: India source, BBC, everythingwerids.blogspot, The Hindu, Daily Mail