Agni Keli – Unique Indian Tradition Encourages Fighting Fire with Fire

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Agni Keli, also known as the Fire Fight of Kateel Durga Parameswari Temple, in Mangalore, India, is a unique ritual which has hundreds of devotees throwing burning palm fronds at each other, to appease the Hindu goddess Durga.

Each year, the Festival of Kateel Durga Parameswari Temple is celebrated over 8 days, in the month of April. It commences on the night before Mesha Sankramana Day, and features a series of themed performances, the most intriguing of which is Agni Keli. On the second night of the festival, hundreds of devotees gather at the temple of Durga, in Mangalore, to carry out a centuries-old tradition that involves throwing and getting hit with burning palm fronds. The fiery action attracts thousands of spectators, who watch as the torch-wielding men try to set each other ablaze.

Photo: Daijiworld ..

Retro Running – The Fine Art of Putting One Foot Behind the Other

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Whether you’re looking for a fun way to get BACK into sport, spice up your boring training or struggling to escape constant injuries, there’s no better way to do it than retro running.

Running backwards may look like a weird, unnatural way to move, but it’s apparently very beneficial for the human body. In fact, the Chinese have been practicing walking and running backwards for thousands of years as a way of staying in shape and reducing the risk of injuries. It wasn’t until the 20th century that retro running developed in the United States, but today it’s recognized as a very efficient workout by many fitness gurus and athletics experts, and competitions are regularly organized all around the world.

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Disaster Café – Where Every Meal Comes with a 7.8 Earthquake

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If a 7.8 earthquake happened during lunch time, most of us would forget about food and run for our lives, but at the Disaster Café, in Lloret de Mar, Spain, quakes happen all the time, and all you can do is try to keep your balance and hope drinks don’t get spilled.

Normally, people are terrified of earthquakes, but at the Disaster Café, people actually pay to experience a simulated 7.8 quake while they enjoy a tasty meal. I’ve never been, but according to online customer reviews, the place is so popular you actually need to make reservations in advance, in order to be get a table. I guess people’s appetite for disaster is stronger than I thought.

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Ming Liang Lu – A Self-Described Master Paper Portrait Cutter

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He’s not the best English speaker in New York, but his skills with the scissors makes Ming Liang Lu one of the most popular subway artists in the big city. The Chinese master claims the art he practices, cutting people’s portraits out of black paper, is unique in the world.

If you’ve ever used the metro, you’re probably familiar with subway performers like dancers or violin and guitar players, but Ming Liang Lu is a different kind of entertainer. Using a small piece of black paper and scissors, he’s able to create intricate, slightly caricatured portraits of subway riders and passers-by, even without looking at them for reference. That might not sound like a lot, but seeing him manipulate that small sheet of folded paper while holding the scissors almost completely still will blow your mind.

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Amazing Artist Draws with Both Hands at the Same Time

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Xiaonan Sun has become a YouTube sensation after a video of him drawing the portraits of Morgan Freeman and Tim Robbins with both hands, at the same time, went viral. It’s definitely one of the coolest things I have ever seen.

Let’s face it, YouTube is full of videos of talented artists drawing realistic portraits of celebrities, and Xiaonan Sun was just one of them, until he posted a unique video of him drawing a tribute to Shawshank Redemption, one of his favorite movies of all time. The portraits of Morgan Freeman and Tim Robbins look pretty impressive, but what really makes them special is the artist did them at the same time, with both hands. Most people can barely draw with their main hand, and here is this guy in his 20s who can do it just as well with both, and at the same time. I know I’m repeating myself here, but this is just insane.

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Spanish Family Quit Their Jobs, Sell All Possessions to Travel around the World in a Caravan

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A young married couple, from Mijas, Malaga, have decided to quit their jobs, sell everything they own, and go on an adventure around the world, with their two little children, in a caravan.

Do you ever get so tired of your boring life and tedious job that you feel like leaving it all behind and going on an exciting adventure? I know I do, but I’m just too much of a coward to say goodbye to a comfortable lifestyle and venture into the unknown. Fernando Fernandez and his wife Fleur, both 29, were also a little scared to put everything they knew behind them and go on a trip around the globe, but they managed to lock their fears away and pursue their life-long dream of seeing the world. They realize it’s going to be tough living in a camper with their two small children, Aisha (5) and Noah (1), but they feel it’s a sacrifice worth making in order to truly live their lives.

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Japanese Artist Invents New Way of Peeling Tangerines

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Yoshihiro Okada has become a popular country in his native country of Japan, after he developed an ingenious way of peeling tangerines, six years ago. It might sound like an arid subject, but the Japanese author has already published two books on peeling tangerines, and even launched a DVD version.

If you’ve been throwing away orange and tangerine peels all this time, then you’ve been missing out on a very fun way to make figurines for your little ones. Using a lot of imagination and a sharp blade, Yoshihiro Okada has been creating detailed figurines out of citrus fruits. It all started six years ago, when he noticed the peel he had removed from a tangerine looked a little like a scorpion. Most everyone else would have probably smiled and moved on with their lives, but not Yoshihiro. He spent the next two weeks buying loads of tangerines and practicing his peeling technique until he got his scorpion just right.

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Grieving Father Invents Device to Talk to His Dead Daughter

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Any parent grieving the death of their child would go to any lengths to hear the child’s voice one last time. But how many of them would actually invent a device for it? Electrical Engineer Gary Galka from Connecticut did just that.

After his 17-year-old daughter Melissa died in 2004 in a car accident, Gary says she began to communicate with the family within days. The doorbell would ring, TV channels would change and lights would turn on and off on their own. That’s when Gary realized that his dead daughter had something to tell them. He created a device to help her, and is now the owner of a thriving business in paranormal detection devices. Over the years, he has sold thousands of such devices, ranging between $79 and $350 in price. Gary has invented over 30 different products that are meant exclusively for paranormal research.

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Touch-Me-Not – A Plant That Clearly Doesn’t Like to Be Touched

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I first heard about the Touch-Me-Not plant from my mother’s stories of her childhood. There were plenty of these where she grew up, and she had fun playing with them. But no matter how much she described the plant to me, I never could quite imagine how the phenomenon worked. Now, thanks to the internet, I can see it for myself ,on video.

The Mimosa Pudica (derived from Latin for shy), commonly known as the Touch-Me-Not, is very true to its name. It obviously doesn’t like to be touched, because running a finger along the leaf simply causes it to fold inwards. I’m not sure if touch really bothers the plant, but the phenomenon is very beautiful to look at. The exact reason for this peculiar behavior of the Touch-Me-Not is also unknown, but it is believed the plant uses this feature to thwart predators. The closing leaves supposedly scare them away. Apart from the stimulus of human touch, the leaves also close during night time. The plant has its origins in South and Central America, but it is actually found all around the world.

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Monkey-Man Keinichi Ito – The Fastest Man on All Fours

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29-year-old Kenichi Ito, from Tokyo, says he has loved monkeys ever since he was a child. He has always been able to identify with animals, and harbored an ambition to adopt one of their traits. His deep desire has been fulfilled, now that he is actually able to move around quite comfortably on all fours, just like a monkey. It all started one day when he witnessed a monkey running quickly. From that point on, he claims he practiced running like the animal every day, until he became the fastest man on all fours.

“You know, my face and body kind of look like a monkey, so from a young age everybody used to tease me, saying ‘monkey, monkey,’” Ito said in his neat apartment, sitting in front of a large poster of a chimpanzee. But I wasn’t really bothered because I really liked them, and somewhere inside of me I had this ambition to adopt one of their traits. When I saw a monkey that could run fast, I knew I’d found it – and from that point on I practiced running like a monkey every day,” Keinichi Ito says about how it all started.

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India’s Controversial Baby Dropping Ritual Is Back

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The devotee scales the high walls of the religious shrine on a rope, a bucket dangling off his back. Once he is at the top (typically about 30ft high), he miraculously retrieves a baby from the bucket, handing it over to a bunch of men standing on the balcony. One of these men takes hold of the baby’s hands and feet, holding the child as though it were a basket. He swings the kid back and forth in the air, exclaiming a chant in the praise of the Lord. And then, shockingly, the baby is dropped.

Baby dropping could be India’s most bizarre ritual. Screaming, wailing babies are dropped from several meters into the air, and there are a group of 14 to 15 men standing right below, holding a blanket that breaks the baby’s fall. Just as it bounces on the blanket once, it is caught by one of the men and handed over to the mother. Understandably, it takes several minutes before the baby recovers from the shock.

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Living with the Dead – Manila’s Cemetery Dwellers

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Graveyards in Manila can be a strange sight for first-time visitors. Some of them hold a strong resemblance to mini-townships, with no sign of the eerie quietness that usually shrouds such spaces. Mausoleums house shops that sell canned sardines, noodle packs, candy, candles and other essential items. Even prepaid cards for mobile phones are available. Meals and drinks are sold at informal restaurants set up between graves. The walls are scaled with makeshift ladders, helping inhabitants to get in and out with ease. Wondering why in the world would the dead need such conveniences? Well, they’re not for the dead, but for the living. Several thousand homeless people in Manila have made graveyards their permanent homes. The biggest graveyard of the Filipino capital, North Cemetery, is now like a small village in itself with a population of 10,000.

I’m not sure about for long this has been going on, but it must be a pretty long time considering that some inhabitants have actually inherited mausoleums from their great-grandparents, and ended up living there accidentally. But a majority of the graveyard population consists of those who come from the provinces of Philippines to the big city and are unable to make ends meet. Apart from running shops and eateries, the people here make a living by working with the graves. At funerals, teenagers carry coffins for 50 pesos (about 50 cents), adult men are employed to repair and maintain tombs, while women take care of cleaning mausoleums. Children collect plastic, scrap metal and other garbage, which are eventually sold.

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Tuvan Throat Singing – A Unique Mongolian Tradition

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As with any other piece of music, it is quite impossible to describe through words what exactly Tuvan throat singing is. I could try to explain to you the physics of how it is done, but then you could always get that information from Wikipedia. I could try to explain what it sounds like, but then you could just listen to it on YouTube. Oh, and while you are on YouTube, please don’t go by Sheldon Cooper’s version of it from The Big Bang Theory. It is funny, but it is in no way the real thing.

Tuvan music is at best described as a variant of overtone singing. Its beauty lies in its traditional, rustic melody and it exudes an old-world charm. That’s not surprising, given the fact that this form of music dates very far back in history. A music that came into being purely out of culture and geographic location, the ancient Tuvans used to look for specific spots to practice it. Given the open landscape of Tuva, sounds are carried a great distance. Singers often travel far into the countryside, in search of the right river or mountainside for the environment that throat singing requires. Sounds like a beautiful way to blend music and nature.

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Controversial Cinnamon Challenge Becomes Internet Hit

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It’s things like the Cinnamon Challenge that strengthen my belief that people will do the dumbest things if they think it’s cool. Because who in their right mind would want to stuff their face with a tablespoon full of cinnamon just for fun? The answer – thousands. And would you believe the Governor of Illinois is one of them? Yep, Gov. Pat Quinn took in a spoonful of that stuff on air, in response to a challenge. He followed his act with the words, “The will of the people. The law of the land.” I don’t know about you, but I’d think twice before giving him my vote. Right now, there are over 30,000 videos on YouTube tagged ‘Cinnamon Challenge’. The most popular ones have millions of views.

The Cinnamon Challenge is basically a dare to swallow a spoonful of cinnamon in powdered form, without water. It’s the latest rage and it has gone beyond viral. The challenge itself has been around for years, but the sudden spike in its popularity remains unexplained. It seems like a simple thing to do; just swallow the stuff and be done with it. In reality, however, it isn’t all that easy. The problem with cinnamon is that it does not break down easily. So the chances of it getting stuck in the throat are pretty high, causing gagging and even vomiting. Doctors have said that this could be very dangerous, because cinnamon can also prevent air from entering the lungs, which could lead to lung inflammation.

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Indian Man Bathes with Boiling Milk Once a Year

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India is a land of ancient culture, with practices that date back thousands of years. It is hard to trace the origins of any particular ritual, let alone remember the significance behind them. With no logical explanation available, several Indian practices seem superstitious and sometimes even a tad foolish. However, this does not deter the people of India from participating in religious and cultural celebrations with gusto.

One such example is the festival of the nine evenings, Navaratri (Nava=9, Ratri=Evening), celebrated every year in the month of October. Dedicated to different versions of the Goddess, all 9 days are filled with festivities, good food, music, dance and religious ceremonies across the country. Living in India, watching the Navaratri for me is a part of normal life. But then I heard about this man who is certainly unusual, even for Indian standards. Every year, during Navaratri, he bathes with pots of boiling milk. And he comes out of the experience, unscathed.

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