Doing things en masse can be a great activity for socializing and having fun. Festivals all around the world are aimed at that, aren’t they? However, we humans have a tendency and affinity to celebrate the bizarre and the gross! We celebrate festivals to invoke a sense of togetherness and to enjoy ourselves. But what do you do when these festivals get more peculiar than you could imagine? Sit tight as Digital Dribble presents to you the 7 strangest festivals celebrated around the world!
- Monkey Buffet Festival (Thailand)
While it may sound like quite the opposite, at the monkey buffet festival monkeys are (thankfully) not served on plates. Platters of fruits and vegetables are laid out for them. Held originally at Lopburi in Thailand, the monkeys are revered as forms of God. The macaque population there is so huge that they would be considered pests in other corners of the globe.
Every year on November 25th, huge plates of food are brought in for the monkeys of the region to feast and enjoy. While it has no significance, this spectacle is witnessed by hundreds and thousands of visitors every year in Thailand, boosting their tourism.
- Albuquerque Balloon Festival (New Mexico, USA)
How can we not mention a major festival in the city which houses one of our favourite TV shows? (Read: Breaking Bad). In this event, a patrol balloon is released to make sure that all the weather conditions are suitable. Then several hundred balloons are launched from a massive 78-acre field. The celebration involves a host of activities including target dropping and races. Sometimes the participants travel as far as Canada!
The Albuquerque balloon festival began in early 1972 only with a handful of balloons. Today, the festival is the largest of its kind and it attracts visitors and tourists from all over the world.
- The Cheese Rolling festival (UK)
The cheese rolling festival is believed to have first started in a village near Gloucester in England where there is a hill called Cooper’s hill. The first participant to get a hold of a block of cheese running down the hill wins!
If you doubt the popularity of this festival, then this might change your mind. Despite being an English festival, in 2013 the event had an American and a Japanese winner! Although the prize is the cheese itself, since the heavy cheese can reach speeds up to 70 miles per hour it is often replaced with foam. People have been known to seriously injure themselves while participating, so beware!
- Roswell UFO Festival (USA)
Now, this is one heck of a festival, surely. This festival is mainly dedicated to the city of Roswell which is famous for its alien encounters and the famous ‘Roswell UFO incident’. It aims to bring together believers and sceptics alike in a three-day grand event where everybody is encouraged to dress in alien costumes.
According to theories and reports, there was a UFO landing (rather a crash landing) at the site and the UFO contained extraterrestrial life. There is even an international UFO museum at Roswell The festival takes place every year in July which becomes a meeting point for alien enthusiasts and fun-loving people alike.
- Near Death Festival (Spain)
Another unbelievable and spooky festival is held in Spain where people who have barely escaped death celebrate together. And how! Though there are religions and cultures celebrating life as well as death, this festival celebrates people who have managed to evade death. In Spain, Santa Marta de Ribarteme is the saint associated with resurrection and therefore these people celebrate their newly found lives by marching in coffins!
Yes, you heard that correct! These coffins are borne by their family members and are done only after the attendees celebrate Mass. Hundreds of people watch as the people who have had near-death experiences are carried to a nearby cemetery on a hill where the procession moves in a circle and then returns.
- Thaipusam Festival (Asian countries like India and Malaysia)
While it is a fashion statement for some, it is a ritual for others. An inordinate amount of body piercing can be seen in the middle of January in South-Indian states with a Tamilian majority. In Singapore too, the Tamil community celebrates this bizarre festival by walking three miles to seek blessings from the gods and asking for forgiveness.
The main ethos of the festival is to endure as much pain as possible- the more the pain endured the more blessings people expect to receive. Some devout devotees even attach hooks and pull heavy objects and vehicles like cars and trucks. This is usually preceded by a month-long strict vegetarian diet and abstinence as Hindus believe the purer the body, the more will be the capacity to endure pain.
- Rocket festival (Greece)
This is the last one on our list and features an amazing battle of handmade rockets on the night between the Saturday and Sunday of Easter. The battle takes place between the people of the Virgin Mary Erethianis Church and the people of Saint Mark Church. It is advisable to book hotels well in advance as this event draws crowds numbering in thousands.
The road in between is filled with sparks and ear-deafening noise as the rockets swish past from one side to the other. Every year tourists visit this place for the spectacular display of fireworks and rockets and they even cheer for their team. Winning is decided on the number of rockets sent to the other side.
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