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    A nag being offered milk during Nag Panchami Festival

    The diversity of Indian culture is reflected in different languages, traditions, customs, and festivals. Every day in this country is a festival, but some of them are a little weird. Despite their weirdness, unusual festivals in India are still celebrated with a lot of enthusiasm.

    But no matter how positive the intent is, celebrations that include practices such as inflicting pain and fighting animals are borderline crazy. Still, these practices are alive and thriving. Of many such bizarre and uncommon festivals of India, here are the 10 craziest that are still popular and practiced. Read on to know if you really wanna attend them.

    1. Lathmar Holi – Vrindavan, Uttar Pradesh

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    What is unusual about it?
    Women of Barsana beating men of Nandgaon with lathis is the highlight of the festival. The unfortunate men who get caught are made to dress like a woman and dance in public.

    The legend of Lathmar Holi
    Lathmar Holi is rather an easygoing confrontation between men of Nandgaon (Krishna’s village) and women of Barsana (Radha’s village) near Vrindavan. The legend has it that during the days preceding Holi, Krishna visited his beloved Radha and ended up teasing her friends. The women of Barsana reacted by chasing down Krishna with sticks (lathis). Since then men and women of these villages recreate the famous event every year as women beat up men with long sticks.

    When is Lathmar Holi celebrated?
    4-5 days before Holi in Vrindavan, Nandgaon, and Barsana

    Suggested Read: 15 Winter Festivals In India You Must Attend


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    2. Rural Olympics – Kila Raipur, Punjab

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    What is unusual about it?
    Competitors lifting an entire stack of bricks with teeth, pulling vehicles with hair, and lifting plows with mouth are some of the bizarre activities that make this event unusual.

    Games at Kila Raipur Sports Festival
    Popularly known as Kila Raipur Sports Festival, this grand confluence of events and activities takes place in the Kila Raipur village, some 20 km from Ludhiana. The festival takes place every year with a massive participation from villagers in the nearby areas. The rural Olympic includes various games and sports activities like horse racing, aerobatics, bullock cart race, and other rural sports.

    When is Rural Olympics festival celebrated?
    Tentative dates for this year are 3, 4, 5 February 2017

    Suggested Read: 18 Kickass Free Experiences You Can Have ONLY In India. No Where Else!

    3. Bhagoria Festival – Khargone & Jhabua, Madhya Pradesh

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    What is unusual about it?
    Marriage fair is conducted on a large scale where youngsters choose their partner and elope with them only to be accepted by the society later and pronounced as man and wife.

    About Bhagoria Festival
    One of the most popular tribal festivals in India, Bhagoria is mainly celebrated in Khargone and Jhabua district of Madhya Pradesh. Mostly participated by the Bhil and Bhilala tribes, the festival has big haat set up, which acts as a marriage swayamvar where young people go partner hunting. The weeklong festival also marks the advent of the spring season and is participated by a huge number of crowd.

    When is Bhagoria Festival celebrated?
    March, 4-5 days before Holi

    Suggested Read: 15 Tourist Places In Madhya Pradesh That You Should Be Visiting Right Now!

    4. Snake Boat Race Festival – Kerala

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    What is unusual about it?
    The format, the extreme competitive spirit witness, and the insane popularity of the Snake Boat Race are traits that make it one of the unusual festivals in India. The race is not just a sport, it’s a fiercely fought battle.

    History of Snake Boat Races
    The popular boat races of Kerala has existed for close to 400 years and is undoubtedly the most popular festival in the South Indian state. The boat races that were once used while fighting wars in water are now a celebrated as a carnival and the amount of energy and intensity generated by this festival makes it popular. Organized in the backwaters of Kerala, these snake boats are known because of their distinct canoe shape.

    Nehru Trophy Boat Race, Champakkulam Moolam (Snake) Boat Race, Aranmula Vallamkali Boat Race, and Payippad Boat Race are some of the most popular snake boat races.

    When is Snake Boat Race Festival celebrated?
    During Onam, depending on the phases of moon

    Suggested Read: Nehru Trophy Snake Boat Race 2017: The Perfect Excuse To Escape To Alleppey Now

    5. Theyyam – Kerala

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    What is unusual about it?
    Theyyam sees people perform dangerous feats dedicated to the divine power. These feats include dancing while wearing a crown of hair of length 10-12 meters, walking fire embers, wearing coconut fronds, and performing with burning wicks of wire tied around the waist. Despite being exposed to flames and burning heat the performer has to walk with all the heavy dress around.

    Theyyam Celebrations
    A popular as well as unusual Indian festival celebrated in most of the parts of Kerala, Theyyam celebrates the ancient rituals and traditions of Kerala that are almost 800 years old. Theyyams are the upper caste people and are also recognized as head of their village. Devotees come to seek blessings from these well-dressed and decorated men.

    The festival involves a variety (close to 400 types) of traditional dances. Theyyam exhibits the ritual of spirits and wonderful artwork by beautifully adorned devotees who dance, and worship gods and celestial bodies.

    When is Theyyam celebrated?
    October – May every year

    Must Read: 7 Festivals In Kerala To Experience The Rich Traditions Of God’s Own Country

    6. Thimithi – Tamil Nadu

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    What is unusual about it?
    To commemorate Draupadi, worshippers walk barefoot on burning coal to honor their goddess which makes it an uncommon festival of India.

    The mythological reference
    According to the Hindu epic Mahabharata, after the battle of Kurukshetra, Draupadi proved her innocence by walking the bed of fire and coming out unscathed. In Tamilnadu, there are temples dedicated to her, where devotees offer their respect by walking on burning coal.

    When is Thimithi celebrated?
    During October – November

    7. Thaipoosam – Tamil Nadu

    Devotees with pierced mouth during Thaipoosam festival in Tamil Nadu

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    What is unusual about it?
    Ardent devotees of Lord Muruga pierce their lips with spears, pierce mouth with sharp metal objects, and hook their skin to chains as they try to pull the chariot in order to pay regards to the deity.

    History & highlights of Thaipoosam
    Thaipusam is another unusual festival of India celebrated in Tamil Nadu mostly in the temples of Lord Muruga. The priests and other chosen ones are required to perform activities like walking on burning coal.

    To mark the celebrations, devotees bathe and smear themselves in turmeric. Priests carry the decorated images of deities over their head along while the colorful umbrellas sheltering them are carried by other devotees. There are lots of attractions to watch out for during the course of the festival.

    When is Thaipoosam celebrated?
    February; date for 2017 is 10 February

    8. Jallikattu – Tamil Nadu

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    What is unusual about it?
    Jallikattu is about controlling bulls, wherein sometimes humans succumb to fatal injuries and even animals suffer injuries.

    The age old tradition of Jallikattu
    Recognized as one of the most pious festivals celebrated in Tamil Nadu as a part of the Pongal celebrations, Jallikattu is rather a dangerous, centuries-old tradition in the South India. For this event, bulls are specially trained by people of the village who later represent the village’s entire cattle family.

    This festival is about bundles of money or gold tied to a bull’s horn. The objective is to tame the bull and pluck the valuables tied to their horns. For this festival, bulls are reared and raised in a way so that they can compete at the highest level and come out as a winner.

    Note: In May 2014 the Supreme Court of India put a permanent ban on JalliKattu citing issues relating to animal welfare.

    9. Muharram – Pan India

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    What is unusual about it?
    To mourn the death of Imam Hussain Ali, Shia Muslims inflict wounds by cutting themselves with sharp objects.

    Muharram – A day of mourning
    Celebrated on the 10th day of the first month of Islamic calendar, Muharram is another unusual festival of India celebrated across the country by Shia Muslims. The festival indicates mass mourning over the death of Hussain Ali- the third Imam of Shia community. The death of Imam symbolizes the struggle against tyranny and injustice.

    When is Muharram celebrated?
    September or October (1 October 2017)

    10. Nag Panchami – Pan India

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    What is unusual about it?
    Devotees offer milk and turmeric to snakes on Nag Panchami.

    Nag Panchami Practices
    Nag Panchami is a festival observed by Hindus across the country. During this festival, the serpentine gods are worshiped and people seek blessings for their family and well-wishers. Though the festival is celebrated across the country, it is popularly observed in Bengal, Maharashtra, and South India.

    The tradition of worshipping snakes dates back to ages, even before the arrival of Aryans. As Nagas are said to be directly associated with Lord Brahma and hence are considered auspicious. Celebrated in the month of July or August (Shravan month) this is another unusual festival of India that is peculiar in its own way.

    When is Nag Panchami celebrated?
    July or August (27 July 2017)

    Of all the celebrated festivals in India these 10 are weird and strange in their own way, but they all represent goodwill and bonhomie. The best part is that people celebrate all these festivals (except Muharram) with utter joy and glee, no matter how weird it is! 

    Further Read: 10 Global Festivals You’d Never Want To Attend


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