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Heard of these bizarre Indian village myths?

Last updated on: April 07, 2015 17:31 IST

A country as diverse as India has some of the strangest rituals and traditions.

From bizarre ways to cure illnesses to an unusual matrimony to please the rain gods…the things people do here must be seen to be believed. 

Rediff.com lists a few such unusual rituals and traditions.

'Sacred' lemon of prosperity

A lemon fetching Rs 23,000 in an auction may seem unusual but not for devotees of a village temple in Tamil Nadu who believe the fruit offered to the presiding deity can bring them prosperity.

The fruit offered during the 11-day annual festival of Idumban temple is in great demand due to its uniqueness of remaining fresh even several days after being spiked on the tip of a spear and the belief that it can ward of all evils and bring prosperity.

According to temple officials, one lemon would be spiked each day on the tip of the spear during the 'Uthiram festival' at the temple in Oddanendal village and devotees vie with each other to bid for it in the auction.

This year the lemon spiked on the first day of the festival fetched a record Rs 23,000 while the remaining ten lemons were taken for an aggregate of Rs 61,200 in an auction.

Body piercing to cure chicken pox

Villagers in the Betul district of Madhya Pradesh participate in an annual tradition of body piercing on the occasion of 'Hanuman Jayanti', which they believe helps cure chicken pox.

The villagers pierced thread on the Chaitra Poornima, which is observed on the full moon day in the month of Chaitra as per the Hindu calendar, which usually falls in late March or early April.

The thread is pierced inside the body while hymns are sung. Four men stand in front and four at the back.

Bare-bodied men dance to mark the ritual in the presence of elderly members of the village.

A frog marriage to please the rain gods

Image: Children watch as villagers solemnise a frog marriage at Kotabari, on the outskirts of Guwahati. Photograph: Utpal Baruah/Reuters

Several Indian villages fall back on an old tradition of a frog wedding when faced with severe rain shortage.  

The villagers pool their money to pay for the wedding. Following an ancient Hindu belief, the frogs' heads were smeared with vermilion paint and the pair is held up in the air in a ritual in front of a traditional clay candle.

People blow trumpets and sing songs, as the priest solemnises the marriage with the usual Hindu marriage rituals.

As per Hindu tradition, the wedding of frogs signifies that during the rainy season frogs come out and welcome Lord Indra. The wedding is performed so that frogs croak and welcome Indra Dev as well as the monsoon showers.

Toddlers tossed from the roof for good luck

A horrifying and shocking ritual in India is the baby-throwing ritual where toddlers are tossed from the roof at Baba Umer Dargah near Sholapur, Maharashtra, and Sri Santeswar temple near Indi, Karnataka.  

Hundreds of people turn out for the annual event, which is thought to have been followed by Hindus and Muslims for nearly 700 years in the belief the fall ensures good health and prosperity for their families.

People partake in this ritual, where an infant, two years or even less, is dropped from a tower of about 50 feet, with crowds standing at the foot of the tower to catch the baby in a bed sheet.

After the child lands and bounces on the bed sheet, held by a group of men, he or she is then quickly passed through the crowd to their mothers.

With high child mortality rates, especially in India's rural areas, many people resort to rituals which they believe can ensure their children's health.

Kids buried neck-deep to cure disabilities

North Karnataka has some unique traditions and one of them is burying their disabled children neck-deep in mud. They believe that as the mud is holy it will cure the children of their mental and physical disabilities. 

The ritual is held to coincide with an eclipse. The men dig small pits and the children, some just a year old, are lowered into the pit neck-deep. They are kept there for a few hours.

Many parents believe that disability in children occurs due to the negative effects of solar eclipse and can only be cured by exposing them to sun during solar eclipse.

Before burying the child oil and water is applied and prayers are offered. The process starts 15 minutes before the eclipse.

Some of the parents say the condition of their children after undergoing the 'burial' treatment during eclipse period had improved vis-à-vis the prescribed medication by the doctors.

This superstitious ritual has been prevalent among both Hindus and Muslims in this region known as Hyderabad-Karnataka.

Food bath to cure skin disease

'Made Snana', is a religious practice observed in some Hindu temples of Karnataka. Made in Tulu refers to the leftovers of a meal, and the word Snana means bath.

Dalits or people from the lower castes roll over the banana leaves spread on the ground used by the Brahmins during the meals. Each year about 3500 devotes participate in this controversial practice.

Temples in South India, hold communal meals for people of all sects, during special religious occasions. These meals are typically of the traditional South Indian variety, where people are served food over plantain leaves on the temple floor.

During the ceremony in Kukke Subrahmanya temple, devotees roll over the plantain leaves, once food has been partaken by Brahmins and other devotees. The devotees then take a dip in the nearby Kumaradhara River, after which the ritual is said to be complete.

It is believed that the ritual rids one of bad Karma, skin diseases and other ailments.

Bathing a child in boiling milk

Karaha Pujan is a ritual performed on the eve of marriages and other auspicious occasions in parts of Varanasi and Mirzapur districts in eastern Uttar Pradesh.

During the ritual, a newly born child is bathed with boiling milk. And it is done by none other than the father of the child, who himself later bathes with boiling milk. T

The ritual is witnessed by a large number of people and is generally performed in local temples amidst chanting of sholkas and mantras by a priest.

The ritual is meant to please the gods so that the child is blessed.