19 bizarre traditions in the world that will send shivers up your spine

Sometimes people practice a ritual because it’s a part of their religion, or it’s such an old tradition that no one questions its existence. To an outsider or a non-practitioner of a religion, these practices can look extreme and shocking.

Here are some of the strangest and creepiest traditions followed in the world:

1. Thaipusam Festival Piercings


Practiced by the Tamil community in India, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Mauritius, Singapore, Thailand and Myanmar, Hindus declare their devotion to Lord Murugan by piercing various parts of their body during the celebration of the religious holiday of Thaipusam. (Source)


2. Burial Ritual Yanomami

The Yanomami tribe, prominent in Venezuela and Brazil, gives a lot of importance to the funeral rituals of their dead relatives to ensure that the souls of the departed find peace. After burning the corpse of a Yanomami, they mix the ash into a plantain soup and drink it. (Source)

3. Bullet Ant Gloves

One of the most painful initiation rituals is practiced by the Satere-Mawe tribe of the Amazon. A young man, when he becomes sexually mature, has to go to jungle to gather bullet ants in order to become a man. The sting from these bullet ants has been compared to the pain of being hit by a bullet. (Source)

4. Balinese Culture's Tooth Fillings

Tooth Filling is a very important ceremony of Balinese culture, which is executed by smoothing down specific teeth. Both males and females have to complete this ritual before their marriages as it is believed to free them from all the invisible evil forces. (Source)

5. Famadihana Dancing With The Dead


Popular among tribal communities, the traditional festival of Famadihana is celebrated in both urban and rural areas of Madagascar. In this funerary tradition, people bring the dead bodies of their ancestors from the family crypt wrapped in fresh cloth and dance with them around the tomb. (Source)


6. Baby Throwing In India

Couples who take a vow at the Sri Santeswar Temple near Indi, Karnataka, Inida, allow their child to be thrown off 50-feet-high from the temple where they are caught in a cloth. This ritual has been practiced in India by both Muslims and Hindus for the past 500 years. (Source)

7. Finger Cutting Of Dani Tribe

The members of the Dani Tribe, who inhabit the fertile lands of the Baliem Valley in West Papua, New Guinea, cut off their fingers to display their grief at funeral ceremonies. Not only do they cut their fingers to show their love for deceased, but they also smear the ashes on their faces. (Source)

8. Mourning Of Muharram

In Muharram, the first month of the Islamic calendar, people following Shia Islam have the Mourning of Muharram, which is also known as the Remembrance of Muharram. This custom is observed by shia Muslims of Iran, Bahrain, India, Lebanon, Iraq and Pakistan.Flagellation is sometimes performed by the participants. (Source)

9. Eunuchs

A eunuch is a castrated man; the term usually refers to those castrated in order to perform a specific social function, as was common in many societies of the past. In ancient China castration was both a traditional punishment (until the Sui Dynasty) and a means of gaining employment in the Imperial service.

At the end of the Ming Dynasty there were 70,000 eunuchs in the Imperial palace. The value of such employment—certain eunuchs gained immense power that may have superseded that of the prime ministers—was such that self-castration had to be made illegal. The number of eunuchs in Imperial employ had fallen to 470 in 1912, when their employment ceased. (Source)

10. Foot Binding

Footbinding was a custom practised on young females for approximately one thousand years in China, beginning in the 10th century and ending in the early 20th century.

In Chinese foot binding, young girls’ feet, usually at age 6 but often earlier, were wrapped in tight bandages so that they could not grow and develop normally; they would, instead, break and become highly deformed, not growing past 4-6 inches (10-15 cm). Today, it is a prominent cause of disability among some elderly Chinese women. (Source)

11. Sati

Sati was a Hindu funeral custom, now very rare and a serious criminal act in India, in which the dead man’s widow would throw herself on her husband’s funeral pyre in order to commit suicide.

The act of sati was supposed to take place voluntarily, and from the existing accounts, most of them were indeed voluntary. The act may have been expected of widows in some communities. (Source)

12. Self-Mummification

Sokushinbutsu were Buddhist monks or priests who allegedly caused their own deaths in a way that resulted in their being mummified. This practice reportedly took place almost exclusively in northern Japan around the Yamagata Prefecture. Between 16 and 24 such mummifications have been discovered. (Source)

13. Tibetan Sky Burial

Sky burial or ritual dissection was once a common practice in Tibet. A human corpse is cut into small pieces and placed on a mountaintop, exposing it to the elements and animals – especially to birds of prey.

In one account, the leading mok cut off the limbs and hacked the body to pieces, handing each part to his assistants, who used rocks to pound the flesh and bones together to a pulp, which they mixed with tsampa (barley flour with tea and yak butter or milk) before the vultures were summoned to eat. (Source)

14. Bride kidnapping in Kyrgyzstan.

The practice is referred to as Ala-kachuu and more than half of Kyrgyz women are married after being kidnapped. This old tradition is illegal under the criminal code, but the law is rarely enforced. Women are basically taken from their family homes or places of work, forced to write letters to their families explaining they’ll never come back, and married into a new family. A lot of women manage to escape the kidnappings, but there’s a large number that chooses to stay because of the stigma that comes with no longer being a virgin. (Source)

15. Fire Walking

The Japanese Shinto Buddhist practice of fire walking. Called ‘Hiwatari Shinji’, the practices involves priests and believers of the Shinto faith walking over flaming embers. They believe that by doing this they can achieve more clarity of thought, get over fears and help the flow of energy move through their bodies. (Source)

16. Living with dead

Keeping the deceased in the house until the time of their burial. In Indonesia, it’s a common practice to wrap the bodies of their loved ones and keep them in the house until the time of the funeral. They do this because they believe that it protects the soul from leaving the body until the burial. (Source)

17. Cow Bloodletting

The Maasai cow bloodletting. The Maasai people of Kenya are known for being one of the most traditional nomadic groups in Africa. A common staple in their diet is cow’s blood, which is typically drank during special occasions. In order to do this, the Maasai poke a point of entry in the cow’s jugular vein and drain some of the blood. Then, they drink it by mixing it with raw milk that comes from the same cow. (Source)

18. Skin Cutting

The skin cutting ritual of Papua New Guinea. Male members of the Chambri tribe go through this remarkable transformation by having pieces of their skin cut off in patterns that resemble the scales of a crocodile. The wounds are filled with clay and tree oil in order to give them a bumpy texture after they heal. (Source)

19. Hunting at Night in Bhutan

In the eastern parts of the Himalayan kingdom, this ritual is called Bomena wherein young men go out in search for love and break into houses of eligible young women.

They have to spend the night there without getting caught. If they do get caught they must marry the girl. (Source)