Top 10 Shocking Rituals In India

India is a land of diversity with people of different cultures and religions living together. Each culture and religion has its own set of customs and rituals, some of which that are shocking but not many people know about. Some of these rituals are still performed whereas some were banned due by the government. Here are the most shocking 10 of all the various other rituals out there.

1.  Practices of the Aghori’s

The Aghori’s are saints from Varanasi who worship lord Shiva as their supreme God. They are known to engage in postmortem rituals. They have been witnessed smearing cremation ashes over their body and using the bones of the dead for making bowls and jewelry. They eat meat and sometimes even the meat of corpses. They are even known to indulge in the practice of necrophilia. Aghoris believe that every person’s soul is Shiva but is covered by astamahapasha (eight great bonds) which are sensual pleasure, anger, greed, obsession, fear and hatred. The practices of the Aghoris are centered around the removal of these bonds.


2. Self-flagellation

The practice of Self-flagellation is not common just in India but in other parts of the world as well. In Muslims, self-flagellation is done during Muharram. Muharram is the first month in the Islamic calendar and marks the anniversary of the Battle of Karbala where Imam Hussein Ibn Ali was killed along with 72 warriors. The Shi’a Muslims mourn this event by flogging their naked bodies with chains known as ‘Matam’ which at times contain knives or razor blades. The followers however claim to feel no pain during the process of flogging as they are so lost in trance.


3. Tongue Piercing

During this practice the tongue of a person is pierced by a sharp needle. The needle, made from wood or steel, can be so long that the tongue can be forced to stick out of the mouth permanently. This ritual again is followed not only in India but in other places as well. The ones who are going to get their tongue pierced wear a garland around their neck one day before the ceremony.


4. Hooking

In South India, one of the main rituals of a festival called the Garudan Thookkam, is the hooking of the Hindu devotees. The backs of the Hindu devotees are pierced by sharp hook and then they are lifted off the ground onto a scaffold using ropes. It is said that even after slaying Darika, the goddess Kali remained insatiable and thirsty which is why Lord Vishnu sent Garuda to sate her thirst. Only after getting a few drops of Garuda’s blood, Goddess Kali’s thirst was quenched. This ritual is performed on the basis of this belief.


5. Baby Tossing

A ritual practiced by both Hindus and Muslims, where babies are tossed from the temple roof to the crowd below, where they are caught by a group of men waiting below with a cloth. This ritual is said to bring health and good luck to the baby and his/her family.


 6. Madey Snana

A century old ritual which is followed even today during which those Hindus who belong to the lower castes roll over the scraps of food left behind by the Brahmins (The highest priestly class in India). This ritual is said to cure all skin diseases.


7. Exorcism by marriage

In India people strongly believe in horoscopes. Some women are said to have the ‘mangal dosh’ which is said to endanger the lives of their husband. To remove this ‘mangal dosh’ these women are married to inanimate objects like a tree. In some parts these women are married to an animal.


8. Exorcism by chicken shredding

In some parts of India it is believed that the ghosts or demons that possess a persons body are afraid of white chickens which is why priests slaughter a chicken and put its body parts in various parts of the house so as to get rid of the spirit or demon bothering the family living in the house.


9. Kesh Lochan

This is the practice of cutting of one’s hair and offering it to God. Some people go as far as to completely go bald. The Jain’s saints and monks, however, do not cut their hair, they pluck out their hair and then offer it to God. They pluck their hair by themselves or ask someone to do it for them. This is done as a mark of renunciation of worldly pleasures and to teach endurance of pain.


 10. Jallikattu

Also known as bull-fighting, is done without any ropes or weapons. The bull is force fed alcohol, or chilli powder is put in its eyes so as to infuriate it. Then young boys, in search of glory, try to tame the bull or at least hold on to it long enough to get a reward.