Curious Customs

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Since there's a beginning to every end we dedicate this spot to all the beginnings in culture, customs & practices. An experience to be cherished you could hand it down to generations or share it with friends or colleagues to boast of a good knowledge of the world around you!!


  • Have you heard?

    • ............about the religious Indian spring festival called Holi?
    • ............that Holi is also called the festival of colour and is the most fun filled and boisterous of Hindu festivals.
    • ............that it is celebrated the day after the full moon in early March and signifies a good harvest and fertility of the land.
    • ............that bonfires are lit on the eve of the festival and that these are called Holika Dahan?
    • ............that these bonfire are in memory of Prahlad, a devotee of Lord Vishnu who was carried into a fire by demoness Holika who perishes in the fire , but Prahlad escaped unhurt due to this strong faith in the Lord.
    • ............that in some places, the festival signifies the divine love of Lord Krishna, the Hindu deity for his childhood friend Radha.
    • ............that another myth denotes it as the day the god of love Kamadeva was incinerated by Lord Shiva for disturbing his penance.
    • ............that the main day of Holi is celebrated with people wearing white and throwing colours and squirting coloured water at each other.
    • ............that these colours were made from herbs, leaves and flowers and kept away diseases. However now chemical dyes are used.
    • ............that the festival also marked the end of winter and the advent of spring and also the end of the year in the Hindu calendar.
    • ............that festivities include visiting each other’s houses and singing Holi songs and making merry.
    • ............that in some places a pot of buttermilk is hung high on the streets and boys try to reach it by forming human pyramids and girls try to stop them by throwing coloured water on them.
  • Have you heard

    • ............ about the old English rural tradition of holding competitions regularly for gurning where gurning is distorting the facial expression.
    • .
    • ............that in this sport players pull faces draped in a horse collar and is called “gurnin’ through a braffin’”
    • ............that the greatest gurners are people with no teeth as lack of teeth gives more mobility to the jaws.
    • ............that the annual World Gurning Championships is held at Egremont Crab Fair, Cumbria, UK since a couple of centuries where men, women and children compete to pull the world’s ugliest faces.
    • ............that contestants are judged on their before and after transformation for their art of pulling faces.
    • ............ that since 1966 there is an event separately for female competitors too and the first junior competition was held in 1979.
    • ............ that most competitors gives their faces a nickname.
    • ............that gold medal winners train meticulously experimenting till they hit the suitably ugly face.
    • ............that amateurs rarely make it to the final rounds in this free style event.
    • ..............that winners get a mention in the Guinness Book of World Records as the planets ugliest men or women.
    • .............. that competitions very similar to gurning are held in Australia too and the Australian term for gurning is the "duck face".
  • Have you heard?

    • ............about the Bun Festival of Cheung Chau in Hong Kong?
    • ............that this four day festivity of parades, opera performances and colourful costumes is also called “Festival of the bun hills”
    • ............that the whole village goes vegetarian for three days before this ritual.
    • ............that bun towers are built in front of the Temple of Pak Tai, the Taoist God of the Seas who protects the island of Cheung Chau against pirates.
    • ............that these towers are bamboo structures several stories high and piled with sweet buns.
    • ............that traditionally men climbed these towers to grab as many buns as possible.
    • ............that these days the towers are made of steel for safety and have a bamboo scaffolding to make it look authentic and climbers have to take a course to learn basic mountaineering skills.
    • ............that twelve climbers are handpicked for the climb and that these days plastic buns are used for the event.
    • ............that blessed buns are given away at on the last day of the festival, though they can also be bought from local bakers.
    • ............that this festivity is just before the fishing season and maybe a way of honouring God for a good season and catch.
  • Have you heard?

    • ............about the Neck rings worn by the Padung & Karen women of the Kayan people who live in Northern Thailand & Burma, some of them being refugees displaced from their homeland.
    • ............ that Marco Polo was the first tourist to describe this during his fourteenth century journey of the East.
    • ............ that this particular form of body modification has likely been Kayan tradition for over a thousand years.
    • ............ that girls in these tribes as young as five wear these metal coils by winding them around their neck which are increased in number as they grow.
    • ............ that these coils place sufficient pressure on the shoulder blades and ribs which push them down at an angle of 45 degrees more than normal which gives the illusion of longer necks.
    • ............ that though these rings weigh about 5 kilograms in weight, the restriction on movement is minimal. These women carry on their day to day chores including sleeping unencumbered.
    • ............ that the myth that these women break their neck or are unable to support them when the coil is removed is untrue. However, their neck muscles are weaker than the rest of the body.
    • ............. that there are many reasons given for this tradition- to protect against tiger bites, to make them unattractive for slave traders, to increase beauty, to identify the tribe and as a symbol of status to show off the family wealth.
    • ............. that these women are buried with the coil on.
    • ............. that Kayan women also wear rings around their wrists, ankles and knees.
    • ............. that these days, the rings attract tourists which provide an income for them from selling baskets and dolls and other trinkets they make. However, some have termed this as exploitation and likened these villages to human zoos.
    • ............. that the women of Ndebele tribe of South Africa also wore rings around their neck to signify their husband’s status. However, today it’s no longer worn permanently.

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