Top 10 Bizarre Cultural Rites of Passage

TT10 August 25, 2011 35

The many, many different countries on our earth mean that a vast amount of differing cultures have developed. Each society has set their own  beliefs, superstitions and traditions on how to live. The British are well known for the tradition of getting together on a Sunday for a roast dinner whilst the Americans are more famed for celebrating Independence day which is of course the 4th of July. But the further you venture in to less tourist occupied countries of the world, the weirder the traditions seem to get (at least to most of us anyway). Probably because western influences, believe it or not, haven’t reached or indeed had any impact on the traditions or rituals of some small communities still tucked away in other corners of the earth and they have amazingly survived relatively untouched by today’s technological advances and leaps forward. Hence, some of the traditions followed and openly practiced are dangerous, extremely painful and are certainly crazy sights for us westerners to see today. A hundred or so years ago I’m sure we wouldn’t have flinched much. But be warned, we are now so western that you may find some of these rituals crazy and probably extremely disturbing…

So just remember, the next time that you are looking at train times or getting ready to board an international flight and you perform your very own superstitious routine to ensure you arrive in one piece (i.e. praying to god wearing your lucky underpants or certain coloured shoes, whatever the case may be) that you are actually quite normal in comparison!

So I am about to share with you some rather strange traditions which date back many centuries and generations. Although odd, I am certain that they will continue to practice these rituals that their ancestors followed for much time to come yet despite however bizarre and horrid they are!

So here are 10 bizarre cultural rites of passage…

10. Scarificaion


This may seem alarming but perhaps it is more shocking to know that although a relatively new trend amongst Tattooists and those who favor body modifications, this is set to become big business in the western world! The act of scarification in Papau New Guinea, amongst the Sepik River Tribes, has been taking place for generations. Boys are taken away from their families for days on end in order to suffer thousands of cuts with razors. This act transforms them from boy to man and once they have healed the patterned skin then resembles the skin of a crocodile. I just can’t imagine the pain these young boys must feel, especially since I can’t even stand one paper cut myself!

9. Blood Ritual

blood ritual

That’s right, this next ritual brings us right back to that lovely country known as Papau New Guinea. This is a tradition that is believed to rid boys of their mothers bonds so that they can effectively change from a boy and in to a man, a warrior. The Matausa tribe believe that if the boy doesn’t complete the ritual he will be forever tied to his mother and will therefore never be considered a man, which in turn will effect him for the rest of his life.

The blood ritual starts with them self inducing vomiting by repeatedly shoving thin canes down the young boys throats. They then push reeds up their noses to bleed out their mothers influence. Lastly, they are then subjected to the torturous pain of being repeatedly stabbed in their tongue.

8. Land Diving

land diving

Both a harvest ritual and a rite of passage at the same time the art of land diving has caused a huge tourist attraction. The men and boys of the island of Vanuatu in the Pacific climb 30 meter rickety wooden towers before tying vines to their ankles and jumping headfirst towards the ground. Miscalculations in the vines length can have horrific consequences causing awful injuries or even death. When the boys land dive, their mothers throw items away also that represent their childhood. After completing these terrifying leaps of faith these boys are considered men.

7. Bullet Ants

bullet ants

An Amazon tribe perform a ritual with bullet ants which is believed to take young tribal men and transport them into manhood. This is done by the bullet ants being firstly dipped in a liquid which knocks them out so that they can be woven into mittens made of leaves. Once the ants awaken from their slumber, the men don these mittens and will dance for 10 minutes, all the time enduring the ants very painful stings. The pain can last up to 24 hours and cause convulsions. These tribesmen will perform this painful ritual several times in their lives to prove themselves as men.

6. Cow Jumping

cow jumping

In Ethiopia, for Hamer men to have the right to marry, they must jump naked over the backs of castrated cattle in order to be rid of their childhood. Once the ritual has been accomplished, the man is then welcomed into the ranks of “Maza” in the tribe. According to Wikipedia, the man-to-be must “jump the cattle” four times to be successful (only castrated male cattle and cows may be used to jump over). This test is performed while naked (except for a few cords bound across the chest) as a symbol of the childhood he is about to leave behind him.

5. Warrior Ritual

warrior ritual

The Mandan Indians used this ritual to transform their young men into warriors. The ceremony began with the bison dance, then the men wouldn’t eat, drink or sleep for 4 days. They were then led into a hut where they would endure the pain of having wooden skewers pushed through their chest muscles, all the time  maintaining a smile on their faces (of course). They would then be suspended from the hut ceiling until they  fainted. After they woke they  would proceed to chop off both their little fingers as an offering to the spirits. Only then would they be known as mighty warriors.

4. Male Circumcision

male circumcision

For the Xhosa in South Africa , male circumcision is a celebration of a boy becoming a man. His head is shaved and he is offered a feast in preparation for the ceremony. He is then lead to a remote area where his family built a fortified hut for him free from animals and insects. Here he stays until his wound has healed which may be several weeks. The worst part is that the surgeon removes the skin with a dull knife and no anaesthetic is used at all. He is not allowed to scream in pain or he will not be seen as a true man. The boy is finally left alone in his hut in agony. He is not permitted by tradition to eat fresh food or drink water while he is healing. Nor does he see any of his family. Infections and STD’s from the overused and under cleaned knives is the biggest danger after the surgery.

3. Whip Match

whip match

For the Fulani People in West Africa, the tradition of these bloody whip matches still lives on in our modern times. For boys to be considered men they must endure 3 painful blows from their opponent who is wielding a long sharpened stick which is used as a severe whip. This match not only tests the boys strength, self control and bravery but also sorts the men from the boys once and for all. How you handle these blows is a testament to your manhood.

2. Tribal Tattoos

tribal tattoos

Again, the Fulani Tribe have a tradition of Tattooing their young women who they feel are ready to move on into adulthood (and you thought it was just the boys who endured such rituals). A respected member of the tribe uses a black dye to mark out patterns and shapes on the girls face, many with different meanings. Every girl in the tribe has a different tattoo. Needles are bound together and are then used to create the tattoo by puncturing the skin through the dye. These girls will endure the pain of this slow process for anything over 3 hours without moving, flinching or even crying as this is the Fulani way.

1. Female Genital Mutilation

female genital mutilation

In Uganda, a horrid tradition is still been upheld in the Sabiny Tribe to this very day. The ceremony of female circumcision of young women and girls (some as young as 6) is the disgusting process of removing part or all of the girls clitoris in order to keep her faithful to her husband. It marks her passage from a girl to a woman. Many of these girls are left with horrendous infections and awful scars both physically and mentally and that is if they actually survive as many women don’t! But this is thought to prove her strong enough to withstand anything her life can throw at her.

I hope this gave you a bit of a better understanding of how other cultures in the world still practice traditions that have been around for hundreds of years, even if some of them are very brutal and really need to be banned. That’s all for this time….

Demon Chick xx


  1. Shannon September 1, 2011 at 1:21 pm -

    I’ve said it before and I will say it again…Thank God i was born in the USA!! We do circumcision but not like that. And the rest are just crazy!

  2. Atishay Jain September 1, 2011 at 1:42 pm -

    Wow … this is suprising that such things happen till date … i like the scarification thing …. its pretty cool ….. and also the land diving

  3. George September 1, 2011 at 2:11 pm -

    All I can say is OMG at some of these rituals. I can’t imagine going through any of them

  4. alanee88 September 1, 2011 at 2:13 pm -

    Wow, these rituals are all very brutal. I do not understand how such a thing can develop, it just feels wrong….

  5. Jodi September 1, 2011 at 2:30 pm -

    Well I just don’t get it. Why in the world do these people think that sexually mutilating both boys and girls is a good and righteous thing? Sure, we circumsize males, as babies… but it is done under extreme sanitary conditions. These things listed herejust saddens me.

  6. Jennifer P September 1, 2011 at 2:52 pm -

    I love the fact that most of these rites of passage are for boys/men. If anyone needs reasons why women are smarter than men, look no further! LOL!

  7. meaner September 1, 2011 at 3:12 pm -

    These rituals are brutal, I hate such things. I do not know why people do something like that.

  8. John P September 1, 2011 at 3:34 pm -

    This is quite crazy! The only rite of passage I have here in Canada is going to tim hortons every morning no matter the obstacles to get a great cup of coffee!! Enlightening!

  9. Jenn September 1, 2011 at 4:15 pm -

    WOW! I’m still picking up my jaw from the floor!!! Some of these are really bizarre and unsanitary to say the least! I think some said it before, but i’ll say it again…THANK GOD I WAS BORN IN THE USA!!!

  10. Josh September 1, 2011 at 7:08 pm -

    they still do male & female circumcision….oh my gosh…i just can’t believe it !
    Good to know that,i thought that such things have been eradicated along time .

  11. jenny September 1, 2011 at 7:25 pm -

    The female genital mutilation is horrific. This needs to stop! Tribal tattoos are wicked common now.

    • Sean April 21, 2012 at 3:13 pm -

      I once saw a documentary about female circumcision and it was interesting to see all the fathers and husbands against it but all the women basically saying “well I did it, so why shouldn’t they?”. Similar happens with the male rights of passage.

      The most interesting issue is male circumcision for religious reasons. Boys die from circumcision all over the world but nobody says a thing because its religiously endorsed and yes, that means America too! The stats are patchy, as its religious so nobody admits to it. But, again, I once saw a documentary where a Jewish couple had had their son die after a circumcision. When they looked back through their family they more or less saw a boy a generation die about the 8 days mark.

  12. Cecil richardson September 1, 2011 at 7:42 pm -

    more ethnic and more dreadful…..oooohhh

  13. divya6sathish September 1, 2011 at 7:46 pm -

    This is our culture but our activities made me surprised. we have to stop this kind of rural things.

  14. Katelyn September 1, 2011 at 8:47 pm -

    Why must all these rituals be painful? Why can’t there be rituals that involve happiness and euphoria in order to become a “man”?

  15. webo September 1, 2011 at 8:48 pm -

    The practices are old, though not eventually necessary but is a mark of festival within a group.

  16. Dale September 1, 2011 at 9:01 pm -

    I’m not really surprised. Males all over the world do really dumb things to induce pain or disfigure themselves as a way to prove their masculinity and dominance. Here in America we just call it being young and dumb, as it can apply to females as well.

  17. hemanth September 1, 2011 at 9:25 pm -

    y r u the people addicted to this culture still ! some were shocking to me

  18. Richa September 1, 2011 at 9:44 pm -

    Actually very surprising, can’t imagine things like this happen in the world.

  19. SHankar September 1, 2011 at 9:48 pm -

    OMG. Scary to see. Stupid practices followed and still followed somewhere is painful to know.

  20. Bharti September 2, 2011 at 12:17 am -

    OMG! After reading all this ….I am looking at me How safe I am in my country. I really feel sad after reading all brutal rituals. Oh God Please help people. do give some more brain so that they should not make these kind of rituals.

  21. Abhay Vinayak September 2, 2011 at 3:17 am -

    looking at these processes like scarificaion, female genital mutilation etc i really feel sad. Even in today’s fast moving world these rituals are performed just to prove that a boy is men or a warrior, it’s really pathetic.

  22. Cecil richardson September 12, 2011 at 6:53 pm -

    oh my gosh…the list is scary..

  23. Danny September 12, 2011 at 7:34 pm -

    Omg, female genital mutilation is just horrible! Poor girls :(

  24. Christine September 12, 2011 at 8:11 pm -

    Female genital mutilation is not acceptable. I’ve heard that it’s still followed in some parts of Africa. It should be stopped.

  25. poona September 12, 2011 at 9:49 pm -

    Nice one….

  26. subathra September 13, 2011 at 12:21 am -

    unexpected these things happen in and around the world. very terrific the Female Genital Mutilation

  27. rithwikram September 13, 2011 at 1:58 am -

    I have seen bullet ants…they are really painful

  28. ovov September 13, 2011 at 2:18 am -

    Man these things are horrible.

  29. kundan September 13, 2011 at 3:13 am -

    i am shocked such things do happen

  30. LOLA April 5, 2012 at 12:07 pm -

    Wow, these things are horrible!
    Do you guys think these things should be prohibited and why exactly?

  31. Anthony April 8, 2012 at 11:45 am -

    These aren’t that bad. Sounds fun. ^^

  32. Sean April 21, 2012 at 3:04 pm -

    Its interesting that a woman would see female circumcision as about 3 places higher than male circumcision and Mandan warrior rituals. You can remove limbs safely in hygenic and modern facilities with little risk. The harsh reality of ritual circumcision is that it is dangerous because its carried out in insanitary conditions by “elders” and the risk of infection is high. Male circumcision and similar rituals are way more common and because they are religiously endorsed the deaths they cause are just hushed up.
    Although female circumcision removes more tissue than male circumcision practiced by Jews, Muslims and most in the US, penile subincision and other genital mutilations practiced by numerous tribes around the world is a more widespread practice and just as bad as female circumcision, in my opinion.

  33. Aloka Mandonke July 4, 2012 at 5:04 am -

    Ppl here I am i survived a Xhosa circumcision which is performed in South Africa. And i am quite sure that no 1 will ever abondon such tradion.. Without being circumcised the original way, you are still being seen as a boy , infact u r a boy, u neva sit with ‘men,’ u neva marry traditional weddings, and the hospital circumcision has stitches, Xhosa cuts are very big, and the glans is black due. Nd we (those who did it traditional ) get thought to speak in codes which only us understand

  34. Ebrahiem Ryan August 22, 2012 at 4:58 am -

    These rituals are all brutal and based on being unsivalized.AND ARE NOT VALUES OF THE ‘NATIVES’, BUT WAS TOUGHT ON TO THEM THROUGH OTHER coloniest that have ruled thier countrys

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