10 Strangest | Weird Religious List
Adherents.com estimates that there are around 4,200 religious groups around the world. Although several religious groups share common practices, there are other religious practices that are unique, gruesome, and death defying.
Number 10: Utah, USA, “Baptism for the Dead.”
In Christianity, baptism is an important rite that symbolizes forgiveness from sins and the acceptance of Jesus as Saviour and Lord. Basic prerequisites for baptism include knowledge of the tenets of Christianity, repentance, and commitment to follow Jesus' teachings. Obviously, it is a practice that is done on the living.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints extends the rite of baptism a bit further by practicing baptism for the dead. The idea behind this practice is to offer baptism by proxy to those who have died without having the opportunity to receive it. The LDS Church teaches that those who have died may choose to accept or reject the baptisms done on their behalf.
Number 9: Mexico, “Day of the Dead.”
The Day of the Dead is a holiday rite celebrated primarily in Mexico and around the world. The intent is to encourage visits by the souls of loved ones, so the souls will hear the prayers and the comments of the living.
The ritual is celebrated by building private altars using sugar skulls to honor the deceased, decorating graves with gifts of marigolds and the favorite foods and beverages of the departed.
Number 8: Spain, “El Colacho.”
Held annually at Castillo de Murcia, baby jumping is a Spanish holiday that dates back to 1620 to celebrate the Catholic feast of Corpus Christi. The purpose of this ritual is to supposedly cleanse the babies of original sin, ensure them safe passage through life, and guard against illness and evil spirit.
The ceremony involves grown men, dressed as devils, jump over the infants who lie on mattresses in the street. The “devils” hold whips and oversized castanets as they jump over the unaware infants.
Number 7: India, “Baby Tossing.”
The practice of baby tossing from the balcony of a temple is a ritual that dates back almost 700 years, and faithfully observed both by Muslims and Hindus.
Legend has it that a saint advised parents whose babies were dying to build a shrine and drop the ailing infants from the roof to show their faith in god. When they did so, the babies were miraculously cradled to safety in a hammock-like sheet that appeared in midair. Since then, parents who wish health and long life for their children toss their children as an offering to the god who granted their prayers.
Number 6: Haiti, “Voodoo Possession.”
At a Voodoo ceremony, to be possessed by the spirit is considered as one of the highest honors that can be bestowed on any person. It is also seen as a sign that the person is now integrated into the community or group.
Requirements for possession includes animal sacrifice, prayer, supplication to the spirits, creation of sacred symbols, rhythmic drums and chanting, and dancing.
Number 5: Japan, “Hadaka Matsuri.”
Also known as the Naked Man Festival, Hadaka Matsuri is a 500-year old annual festival held in dozens of places in Japan that draws thousands of men wearing loincloth.
The aim is to grab a pair of lucky sticks or sacred talisman thrown by priests. Participants believe that grabbing the sacred talisman will bring them a year of happiness and success.
Number 4: San Fernando, Philippines, “Crucifixion.”
Every Good Friday, one of the events that draws people to the town of San Fernando is the re-enactment of Christ's Passion that culminate in the crucifixion of at least three penitents to wooden crosses atop a makeshift Calvary.
One of these penitents is Ruben Enaje. After surviving a fall from a three-story billboard in 1986, Ruben made a vow to be crucified as a sign of gratitude. As of 2016, he has been crucified 28 times.
Number 3: Pentecost Island, Vanuatu, “Land Diving.”
What can be considered as a precursor to bungee jumping, the men of Pentecost Island bravely participate at annual ceremony that hurls them at 45 miles per hour from up to 90 feet high platform. With only vines tied to their feet, the aim is to graze the ground with their shoulder.
Number 2: Philippines, “Flagellation.”
The practice of self-flagellation is an annual rite that devotees perform to commemorate the suffering of Jesus Christ. They tie a rope around their arms and legs, and cut their back with a blade before marching barefoot for hours. As they march around town, they whip their backs with bamboo whips or metal chains. Some carry wooden crosses.
Number 1: India, “Thaipusam or Extreme Body Piercings.”
Among the Tamil communities of India, the Thaipusam festival is held to commemorate Lord Murugan's destruction of the demon Tharaksuran and his minions. The festival is a display of extreme body piercings, death defying stunts, wearing wooden sandals laden with spikes, food offering, and various ways of showing one's devotion.