The rites of passage or initiation most strangers in the world

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Martí Micolau

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Can you imagine what could be the most curious rites of passage in the world? Sure, what comes considered bizarre by someone or in a certain place is not said it is valid everywhere and for anyone, but we make you discover the most incredible rites of passage for our western eyes.
First, however, it is better to specify what a rite of passage consists of ...


  1. Rite of passage or initiation: this is the meaning
  2. Being eaten by ants, Satere Mawe (Amazonia)
  3. Upside down tied to a vine, Sa (Isle of Pentecost)
  4. Eating human flesh, Aghori (India)
  5. Three very painful trials, Mati (Brazil)
  6. Purifying blood and mucus, Matausa (Papua New Guinea)
  7. Jumping bulls and receiving lashes, Hamar (Ethiopia)
  8. Couple beatings, Fulani (Mali and Niger)
  9. Buried in Heaven, Tibet
  10. Living with the dead, Toraja (Indonesia)
  11. Women with severed fingers, Dani (Paua New Guinea)
  12. Down from the roof, Karnataka (India)
  13. User questions and comments

Rite of passage or initiation: this is the meaning

A rite of passage is a ritual that marks the change of an individual from one socio-cultural status to another or concerns a change in the course of life. The most emblematic cases are those of the initiation rites (religious or cultural, which often involve a change of status in a radical way) or important events such as marriage or menarche.

The ritual generally takes place through ceremonies or tests to be overcome. The rites of passage play a very important function for individuals and for the social group to which they belong. The rites of passage or initiation are not something related only to primitive cultures, belonging to the distant past or totally different from the Western one. We also have many, one above all the wedding or the degree or the very refined Debutante Ball.

Ok, after the necessary clarifications it is time to discover the strangest and most extravagant rites in the world ... Are you ready?

1 - Being eaten by ants, Satere Mawe (Amazonia)

The Paraponera Clavata, also called bullet ant it is so called because of the pain it causes when it bites with its powerful mandibles it is comparable to that of a gunshot. Young males of the Satere Mawe tribe must be very brave to enter the world of adults: they are obliged to slip hands in a pair of special gloves stuffed with dozens of specimens of bullet ant e resist for at least 10 minutes. But that's not enough! During the test they must not cry or complain!

2 - Upside down tied to a vine, Sa (Island of Pentecost)

Teens of the Sa tribe must perform in the ritual of Naghol (dive to the ground) in order to officially become great. This ritual inspired bungee jumping. Young people, tied only with lianas, have to throw themselves from wooden towers over 30 meters high. The proof is definitely risky and not safe as in the case of the well-known extreme sport.

In fact, if the vine is too short, the boys risk hitting the sharp poles that support the structure; if it is too long, they fall to the ground at over 40 km / h. It's a show of masculinity for men, but help ...

3 - Eating human flesh, Aghori (India)

The Aghoris are a sect that is concentrated in the holy city of Varanasi, India. They are usual consume human flesh in their quest for enlightenment.

You may be wondering where they get "the material". Their main source of supply is the funeral pyres, very common along the banks of the Ganges. According to the Aghoris this practice, linked to purity of the soul, contributes to keep diseases away. Convinced them ...

4 - Three very painful trials, Mati (Brazil)

Would-be adult Mati have to overcome three very painful trials. First he is paid some poison in the eye. Later they come beaten with sticks by the other men of the community. Finally (as if it wasn't enough ...) they come hit with darts fired by long wooden blowguns. But will they be mere darts? Not at all! They are drenched with a toxin obtained from poisonous frogs which causes hallucinations, tremors and severe diarrhea. Other than party for the 18 years ...

5 - Purifying blood and mucus, Matausa (Papua New Guinea)

For this ritual it takes an iron stomach, even if only to read its description ... According to the Matausa, the woman's body cannot be pure and consequently neither will her children. To work around this problem young people are purified during adolescence or at some important moments in life, such as before marriage. But how? Through a rather violent ritual: they slip on two reeds in the throat who come made to come out of the nostrils. The blood and il mucus and gush from the wounds they represent the impurities passed to the boy by the mother who, in this way, are finally expelled.

6 - Jumping bulls and receiving lashes, Hamar (Ethiopia)

The ceremony of the jumping of the bulls, at the Ethiopian tribe Hamar, is an initiation rite. At the end of the latter, young people enter adulthood and will thus be able to create new couples. The name of this practice comes from the fact that the young males must naked jumping a row of lined up bulls. The girlsInstead, they must be whipped. Maybe males fare better ...

7 - Couple beatings, Fulani (Mali and Niger)

The Fulani boys, a nomadic tribe from West Africa, face a very painful rite of passage to become adults. They are required to compete in pairs in a "beating" competition. After finding a sturdy enough stick, the first boy faces his opponent: he must hit him, without interference, as hard as he can. Then it is, of course, the opponent's turn. The crowd decides the vincitore based on who hit the hardest and who complained the least.

8 - Buried in Heaven, Tibet

Also the death represents a change of status. In Tibet, among some populations, it takes place a poetic and macabre ritual at the same time. The dead are not buried but transported high in the mountains with the help of yaks with long processions opened by the songs of the monks. Once arrived at their destination, i corpi are dismembered and fed to the vultures. Leaving the body to feed these birds is a final act of generosity on the part of the deceased towards the world of Nature. In fact, a link with the cycle of life and by doing this the deceased repays his karmic debts with other beings. The vultures they are birds that eat only dead animals and are revered and considered by Tibetans as one manifestation of the dakinis, the equivalents of angels. Although it has a religious significance, the Burial in Heaven responds to practical needs. In fact, in much of Tibet, due to the considerable altitudes, the terrain is mainly rocky and often frozen. It therefore becomes very difficult to dig pits. Furthermore, the severe shortage of trees makes cremation virtually impossible. For obvious reasons we do not show you the most important moment of the ritual ...

9 - Living with the dead, Toraja (Indonesia)

Other than zombies and Halloween jokes! We Westerners certainly would not tolerate such a coexistence! The Toraja people, people who live in the mountains of Indonesia, literally lives with i loved ones dead. Those who have passed away, after being embalmed with formaldehyde, remain in the homes of their relatives For years. Here, then, he is symbolically fed, washed, dressed and changed until the decomposition process has run its course ...

10 - Women with severed fingers, Dani (Paua New Guinea)

These tribes, who live in the most internal and isolated highlands, perform a particular ritual when women become widows or lose a close relative. They are required to undergo theamputation of the phalanges. This practice also involves girls. In the long and narrow valley of the Baliem River, where about 50 Dani live, it is not uncommon to see elderly women with almost all their fingers severed. But be careful: you will not see may hands free of inch. They are in fact indispensable to carry out any activity. Fortunately today this practice è prohibited by law and we sincerely hope that the ban will be respected ...

11 - Off the roof, Karnataka (India)

Let's end with another ritual fortunately now prohibited by law, although, unfortunately, in some small villages they continue to exercise ... Every year, in the first week of December, in the State of Karnataka, children born in the year they were thrown from the roofs of temples, from a height of about 30 meters. Below they were ready to welcome them towels and sheets, thesis by relatives and the crowd. According to tradition, this rite of passage provides luck and health to newcomers. The authorities, as previously mentioned, have prohibited this practice due to its dangerousness, but in some villages it continues to play out... The origin of this ritual is unclear and is performed by both Islamic and Hindu communities in the area.

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