Anyone who has traveled knows that you will always encounter sights and rituals that you have never seen before. Each country is rich in history and tradition that may baffle any tourist, no matter how experienced. India is no different in that respect. With an ancient culture that is steeped in ritual, beliefs and traditions, you are bound to encounter things that will leave you scratching your head or staring in astonishment. If you can keep an open mind and not prejudge what you might see and hear, you could find yourself leaving this incredible country with memories to last a lifetime. You will experience a country of beauty and culture that will forever change your outlook. I’m going to show you some of the craziest and most confusing things I found as I researched this country. They may not bother you or they may leave you shaking your head in amazement. Enjoy the diversity of India as we look at the strangeness of this place. And just remember, no matter how open minded and accepting you are of differences, there are going to be things that will have you looking at your trip to India and asking one question. India, WTF?
15. Temple of rats
India has a long history with a dynamic religion. The country has a diverse and unusual selection of deities and of animals they view as holy. Temples are found everywhere dedicated to practically everything. The Karni Mata in Rajasthan, India is one of them. The Hindu temple is home to over 20,000 rats. There are several legends regarding the rats ranging from them being the reincarnated sons of Karni Mata to the soldiers of an army that deserted a battle. Karni Mata gave them the option of being transformed into rats and residing in the temple instead of facing death. The rats are revered by the population and it’s considered a high honour to eat food that had been nibbled by one. If one is killed, it must be replaced by one made of solid silver. I can’t even begin to understand this one.
14. Marriage – A huge money making business
The concept of spending a lot on weddings is not new and not confined to India. Huge, extravagant and expensive weddings occur the world over. But it is taken to all new levels by Indian families. Wedding couples are known to spend up to a fifth of their life earnings on the event, which will last from several days to a week. The dresses (as the bride changes outfits several times a day) and jewelry can run into the millions of dollars. There does not seem to be any limit to these parties. Designers and wedding planners have made it clear that there seems to be no sign of limiting the extravagant spending any time soon. The weddings in India are a sight to behold.
13. Marriage in all its forms
Extravagant weddings aren’t the end of the interesting rituals surrounding Indian marriage. As society progresses, we have seen marriages take on different forms to accommodate changes in family styles, but I had never heard of this one until I started researching this article. One of the strangest that I ran across is the idea that if a child’s first tooth appears in the upper gum, they need to marry a dog to ward off demon possession. An eighteen year old girl by the name of Mangli Munda, married a stray dog to break the curse. The ritual is said to reverse the curse and the girl will then be free to marry the man of her dreams without worrying about divorcing the dog.
12. The Dangerous tradition of Baby Tossing
When it comes to strange traditions, this one truly gave me the chills. In the village of Karnataka, India, there is a centuries old tradition that the local priests perform. It is believed that it originated when a spiritual guide “advised people whose babies were dying to build a shrine and drop the ailing infants from the roof to show their trust in the almighty” and after doing so, “the babies were miraculously cradled to safety in a hammock-like sheet that appeared in midair.” The tradition has been continued as babies are shaken then dropped from a height of about thirty feet to the crowd below.
11. Town of Twins
Not all the unusual stories are as horrifying as the baby tossing one. Some are just absolutely fascinating and hard to believe. We all know that twins are not common. Six out of every one thousand births is a high rate. Kodinhi is a tiny town that boasts the title of “Twin Town”. They have 350 sets of twins. With the population being what it is, this puts the rate at a huge 42 sets of twins per one thousand births. With this unbelievable rate, every family in this secluded village has at least one set of twins. This is a record that only exists in India.
10. A Land of Snakes
Shetpal, Maharashtra is a village that is known for snake worship. Every household in this small town has a place up in the rafters of their home for cobras to rest. Despite this terrifying practice that has gone on for centuries, there has never been a report of a snake bite from the village. The snakes are welcome everywhere in the town including the homes. The villagers revere the god Shiva which the snakes symbolize. The villagers have no fear of the snakes and willingly share their entire town with them including homes and classrooms. So, if you’re not comfortable dealing with snakes, take Sheptal off your list.
9. Dining with the dead
This is beyond creepy. The only dead things I want to deal with at a restaurant is the food. I prefer my company live. The New Lucky Restaurant in Ahmedabad is built on a centuries old Muslim cemetery. This popular coffeehouse has its tables situated around graves that are said to belong to a sixteenth century Sufi saint. Despite the sinister ambience, the restaurant stays busy. The owner of the bustling, popular coffeehouse says that the graves are his lucky mascots. So if you prefer that your dinner companions have heartbeats, the New Lucky restaurant may not be such a lucky choice for you.
8. Architecture that just hovers
The small, historical village of Lepakshi is the home of many ancient relics and architectural marvels. It’s an amazing village to see. One of the most well known is the Lepakshi temple. The temple is a gorgeous building with seventy pillars. One of the pillars is a bit different. It hangs down without any support. This strange phenomena attracts visitors to witness the hanging pillar. They come from all over to pass objects underneath which is thought to bring prosperity. In a country full of temples, this unique feature sets the Lepakshi temple apart as a marvel that could only happen in India.
7. Where spirituality and technology meet
Only in a country that is diverse as India would you find a shrine to a motorcycle. India is a land of a wide array of religious rituals and celebrations that seems to embrace an abundance of shrines and temples to a plethora of deities. Bullet Baba Shrine, Bandai, Rajasthan is one for the books. The motorcycle that is the heart of the shrine belonged to Om Singh Rathore. He crashed his bullet motorcycle into a tree. The police took the bike to the station. The next day it reappeared at the crash site. They took it back to the station, emptied the tank and chained it up. It still ended up back at the site. It was permanently moved to its current location where travellers offer prayers. It’s believed that the spirit of Om Banna protects travellers.
6. A temple dedicated to man’s best friend
In Channapatna, Karnataka, you can find an unusual temple that was erected in honour of the Dog God. According to the villagers, the dog was one of the first animals living with humans. They believe that by worshiping dogs, nothing wrong will happen in the village. They also believe that the dog has a darker, more aggressive side. It’s that side that protects the village. There are two idols that represent the two faces of dog. They even perform poojas, or prayer rituals, to the dog. Dogs have long been considered man’s best friend and protector. The villagers in Channapatna take this relationship very seriously. Only in India.
5. Museum for toilets
Only in India would you find an entire museum dedicated to the porcelain throne. We are all happy to have access to modern plumbing and a place to do our not so pleasant bodily functions, but we certainly don’t want to think about it. But, there is a city in India that wants to celebrate all things toilet related. The Sulabh International Museum Of Toilets in New Delhi is a definitely quirky. It takes a look at the 2500 year history of the toilet and features displays from many different ages. If you’re up for a tribute to the place we all share, check out the museum of toilets that can only be found in India.
4. The Sport of Bull surfing
Most people are familiar with the bull runs and bullfights of Spain, but India puts a spin on it that can only be described as crazy. Bull surfing is a water sport that takes place in Kerala, after the harvest season. Two bulls will charge down a paddy field through dirty mud, with a person hanging onto a board or to the tails of the bulls. By the end of the harrowing, astounding run, the bulls and the person are thoroughly soaked. It’s a very strange spectacle that will leave spectators trying to figure out what they were looking at. Again, only in India will they push the envelop like this.
3. Cleanest town in Asia
Mawlynnong, Meghalaya is a gorgeous village that has earned the popular nickname of “God’s Own Garden.” It has also earned international accolades for being the cleanest village in Asia. The entire village works to maintain this. It is a community-based effort for promoting eco-tourism. The village also has a 100% literacy rate and most villagers speak English fluently. This beautiful paradise on Earth has many wonders to it. It truly shows that community effort and pride can turn even the smallest, hidden village into a internationally known haven to visit. When you visit this place, you will take away wonderful memories and a realization that tradition and culture thrive in this small Indian village.
2. A Shirt Made Of Pure Gold To Attract the Ladies
We all love having a nice wardrobe that fits our style. But one Indian man took it to an all new level. A Pune resident and money lender, Datta Phuge, commissioned fifteen goldsmiths to make him a gold shirt worth about $17,000. It took the goldsmiths two weeks of sixteen hour days to complete the shirt. It also had matching cuffs and rings that were made out of the leftover gold. Phuge admitted that he had the shirt made to attract women. He stated that he knew he wasn’t a very attractive man, but every woman was dazzled by the shirt. I can’t even begin to understand why someone thought this was a way to get women.
1. Trains are always overflowing with people
India boasts a large population that has to be able to move from one location to another. One of the most common modes of transportation is the train. But riding the train in India is an experience like no other. For a traveler that has never done so, the first time they encounter the spectacle, they will be stunned. The train system is incredible but it’s always overbooked. You are in for an eye opening experience. It’s not uncommon to see people hanging from the sides of the train. With it being one of the main forms to travel in the country, you’ll never lack for company on the rides as you’ll all be packed in like sardines. Also, if you want a seat in one of these trains then I’d start praying if I were you.
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