CULTURE: FROM THE FUNNY TO THE BIZARRE

This week, I have decided to pick different cultures from around the world. Some are funny and others are just downright weird! While some of these cultures are no longer practised, some have only been recently stopped.

We all know that beauty sometimes comes with pain, the pain of getting a tattoo done, piercing a body part or even threading an eyebrow. The Chinese however have taken this further. Foot binding is a tradition practised on young Chinese girls form the age of 4 and sometimes later. The young girls’ feet are broken and wrapped with a very tight bandage so the toes are twisted backward. This supposedly is to make the feet smaller (3 inches) and beautiful.

Gurning is a funny-face-pulling sport in rural England that has been in existence since 1267. This is done by making distorted facial expressions. At the World Gurning Championship in Egremont, gurners donned a horse collar and pulled the most grotesque face possible. While this seem silly, gurners takes it very seriously. Peter Jackman, a four-time winner, went to the extent of removing his teeth in 2000 to make it possible to make certain face manoeuvres.

While some cultures will simply mourn the dead by crying and maybe dressing in black for certain days, the women of the Dani tribe, Indonesia have to cut their fingers every time a relative dies. The purpose of this is to ward off evil spirits and appease ancestral ghosts. Double bad new for these women then when a family member dies!

Lip Disc is a type of body modification popular in Africa and Asia. A hole is pierced in the lower or upper lip and sometimes both and a disc made of clay or light wood is placed in it thereby stretching it to accommodate a larger one until the lip stretches to its limit. Neck rings are also popular among African and Asian women, they are placed around the neck at the tender young age of 2 to 5 to allow the necks stretch slowly with time than forcefully and painfully at puberty.

In Sweden, if a bride or groom leaves their table to use the bathroom, the other get kissed by the guests. If the groom leaves the table, then the bride gets kissed by every male in the reception and vice- versa. Field day eh?

In Germany, family and friends of the couple gather together for a party before the wedding. They break everything breakable from dishes to flower pots and toilets. The couple are then required to clean up the mess as a symbol to indicate unity and their ability to work together in tough times. I won’t be surprised if housewares traders in Germany are fond of this practice.

In some parts of India, the groom is required to take off his shoes which the bride family then tries to steal while the groom’s family prevents them. Whoever wins gets paid a ransom. I can just picture elderly men and women head butting each other just to get a shoe. Some entertainment that!

A group of people called Daur in Chinese in order to finalize the wedding date, the soon to be couple are required to kill a chick and inspect the liver. If it is good, they proceed and if not, they repeat the process until they find a chick with a good liver. Poor chicks!

In Thailand, 3,000 kilograms of fruits and vegetables are set out annually to feed approximately 2000 monkeys. The feast is held in honour of the gods and also to thank the monkeys for attracting tourists. Lucky Monkeys!

Some of these practices are just people’s unique way of catching fun. Others have been stopped because of their extreme nature. Also the exposure of some of these people to the outside world has helped them reconsider some of their practices.

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