Onbashira – Japan’s Riskiest Celebration

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Held every six years, in the Nagano area of Japan, Onbashira Festival is believed to have continued uninterruptedly, for the last 1200 years.

Onbashira, literally translated as “the sacred pillars”, is a Japanese tradition that symbolizes the renewal of Suwa Grand Shrine. It consists of two phases: Yamadashi and Satobiki, the first held in April, and the second in May. Before Onbashira begins, 16 tree trunks, cut form 200-year-old Japanese fir trees are cut down. Each tree can be up to 1 meter across, 16 meters tall and weigh up to 12 tons.

Yamadashi is translated as “coming out of the mountains” and is the most popular part of the festival. Teams of men have to drag the logs down the mountain, to Suwa Shrine. At some points they encounter steep slopes where they must slide the tree trunks. In a ceremony called Ki-otoshi, brave young men risk their lives by climbing on the trunks and riding the all the way down the muddy slopes. It takes 3 days to move the sacred tree trunks, over 10 kilometers, to the shrine.

Satobiki involves placing the logs at the four corners of the four buildings that make up Suwa Grand Shrine. Using ropes, teams have to pull up the giant tree trunks in a vertical position, with young men sitting on them. Those still on the logs after they are positioned, perform all sort of feats.

On Sunday, during the 2010 edition of Onbashira Festival, a man was crushed to death by a tree trunk, during Satobiki. One of the ropes came loose and hit the 38-year-old man in the head. Several others were injured in the accident.

Photos via Daylife

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Bolivia’s Day of the Skulls

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Dia de los Natitas (Day of the Skulls) is an ancient Bolivian ritual where skulls are decorated with flowers and pampered with cigarettes, coca leaves and other treats.

Every November 9, the central cemetery, in La Paz, Bolivia, becomes the scene of a bizarre pre-Columbian tradition, known as Dia de los Natitas.  Women carrying skulls, in decorated wooden or cardboard boxes, fancy glass cases and even in plastic bags, gather outside the cemetery to show off their skulls. They are usually decorated with flower petals (hydrangeas and roses) and covered with knitted colorful caps.

Some Bolivians believe a person has seven souls, and one of them remains in the skeleton, after they’ve been buried. Once the other souls have left for heaven, the remains are dug up and the skull taken home and cared for. If they’re not respected, skulls can bring bad luck to a household, ruin the harvest and even break up a family. But if they’re properly taken care of, you can ask the skull for favors.

A big part of caring for the skull is represented by the Dia de Las Natitas celebration. Skulls are offered cigarettes, coca leaves, alcohol and are even serenaded by street musicians.

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Orangutan Boxing Matches Held in Thailand

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A Thai theme-park, outside Bangkok has become a popular tourist attraction by organizing orangutan boxing matches.

Huge crowds of tourists and “sport” enthusiasts gather at Safari World to watch orangutans duke it out in 30 minute-boxing matches. Forced to wear boxing gloves and shorts, the two primates have been trained to hit each other for the entertainment of man. Although organizers claim the orangutans have been trained to simulate being knocked-down, animal activists say it’s a clear case of animal cruelty.

It’s sad to see thousands of tourists cheer as two 250-pound primates pummel each other, or hear them whistling when a female orangutan, wearing a bikini, displays the round number, but it’s the world we’re living in. These peaceful creatures don’t fight because they like to, but because they’ve been trained to do so, an because they would be beaten if they didn’t.

The Thai government shut down the monkey boxing matches, in 2004, and it’s yet unclear how this bizarre and cruel show is still allowed.

Photos by Barcroft India

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Indian Students Write World’s Longest Letter to God

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A group of students from an Indian university celebrated their silver jubilee year, by setting a new world record for the longest letter.

The Brahmakumaris youth wing of Gujarat University found an original way to celebrate their silver jubilee year, the university’s diamond jubilee year and 600 years since the establishment of Ahmedabad city. They decided to organize an event where people could write their own letter to God.

In just 3 hours time, 2,800 people wrote down their feelings of gratitude for their happy lives and also asked the removal of poverty and protection from terrorism, corruption and other evils. The letter ended up being 2,841 feet long.

Participants were grateful for such an occasion to thank God for everything He helped them achieve in life, and organizers say this kind of event is perfect for people who want to learn how to write letters to God.

The previous record for the World’s Longest Letter was established by 2,000 of my Romanian countrymen who wrote a 1,358 feet-long letter for Santa Claus.

via WorldAmazingRecords

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Wet Monday in the Ukraine

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Known as an ancient tradition, in central-European countries like Poland and the Czech Republic, Wet Monday appears to be very popular in Ukraine, as well. It takes place on the second day of Easter

Wet Monday started out, in Poland,as a pagan custom that symbolize cleansing, with the coming of Spring. When Christianity became the main religion, Wet Monday was adopted as a Christian ritual, related to cleansing souls of sins. The truth is people loved this tradition so much, they found a way to keep it, by associating it with religion.

On Wet Monday. boys and men armed with bottles and buckets of water, chase after girls and splash them from head to toe. According to the original custom, the most beautiful girl in a village would be the wettest, but nowadays, boys just splash any girl they see. At one point, the tradition got so out of hand that boys threw buckets of water, at girls, threw their car windows.

With the current water shortage the world is facing right now, some would say this is a terrible waste, but the boys with water bottles wouldn’t dream of abandoning this ancient tradition. just look at those happy faces.

The photos below were taken on Wet Monday, in the Ukrainian city of Lviv. They are copyright of  Yurko Dyachyshyn.

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British Lovebirds Say Yabba-Dab-I-Do

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Inspired by the rocky beach front of Combe Martin, a British couple decided to get married in a Flintstones-themed wedding.

Ed Martin and Gayla Robinson moved to Combe Martin in September of last year, and inspired by their rocky surroundings, decided to opt for something more original than a white wedding. They plastered the stage of the Landmark Theater to look like a cave, had their 100 guests dress like cavemen, and even built a replica of the Flintstones car.

As you can imagine, the best man and maid of honor were dressed like Barney and Betty Rubble, and the page girl and boy, as Pebbles and Bam Bam. Just like the Star-Wars wedding, the Peter-Pan wedding, or pretty much any themed wedding, it was a fun event that everyone enjoyed.

Photos by GUY HARROP

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11-Year-Old Girl Wins Stinky Sneakers Contest

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In an event organized by Odor-Eaters, 11-year-old Trinette Robinson proved she had the stinkiest sneakers, and took home the $2,500 prize.

The 35th edition of the Annual National Odor-Eaters Rotten Sneaker Contest had nine kids, aged six to sixteen, battle it out for the title of “wearer of the stinkiest sneakers”. It was a hard contest to judge, considering all participants had already proven their stinky valor, at regional level. To make sure the winner was decided fairly, organizers brought in members of the jury with some serious sniffing abilities. Among them were George Aldrich, chemical specialist for NASA space missions, and Rachel Herz, author of the Scent of Desire, and professor at Brown University.

Pungent sneakers were judged on the condition of the sole, tongue, heel, toe, laces, overall condition, but especially odor. This year’s winner of the Rotten Sneaker Contest was Trinette Robinson, an 11-year-old girl from Bristol, Connecticut. She confessed she played hard in Girl Scout Camp, did a lot of community walks for charity, and took part in the “no-child left inside” program, in order to get her sneakers to smell as bad as they do.

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Italians Make World’s Longest Chocolate Bar

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The small town of Rivarolo, near Turin, Italy, hosted a Guinness World Records attempt for the longest chocolate bar in the world.

The record to beat was 6.98 meters, but A. Giordano, a local chocolatier, and his team outdid themselves and made an 11.57 meter-long chocolate bar. The event was sponsored by a Rivarolo shopping mall, who also brought in the Guinness representative to acknowledge the attempt.

As you can imagine, the crowd gathered during the event was treated to a delicious piece of chocolate delight.

via Guinness World Records

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Gunther von Hagen’s Plastinated Animal Menagerie

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Doctor Gunther von Hagen , the anatomist who invented plastination, presents his newest exhibition – a collection of the most revered animals in the world.

At the “Body Worlds of Animals” exhibition, held at Neunkirchen Zoo, Germany, people can discover the intricate anatomy of some of the most remarkable creatures in the animal kingdom. Samba and Chiana, two elephants donated by the zoo to the Institute of Plastination, four years ago, return home in plastinated form. The whole process of plastinating an elephant took 64,000 hours, 4 tons of silicone and 40,000 liters of acetone. By comparison, platinating a human body takes only 3,000 hours of work.

But the difficult and time-consuming process is well worth it, if it can reveal amazing mechanisms, like an elephant’s trunk, manipulated by 40,000 muscles, or the incredible cardiovascular system of the giraffe, which prevents it from being in permanent cardiac arrest.

The Body Worlds of Animals features other popular animals, like the bear, gorilla, or ostrich, stripped of their skin and ready for inspection. Dr. Gunther von Hagen, a self-declared animal lover, hopes his exhibition ” will increase appreciation for animals, especially endangered species, and remind us all of our obligation to animal wellfare.”

Photos by REUTERS via Daylife

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Seminole Indians Hope to Revive Alligator Wrestling

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Alligator wrestling has been a big part of Seminole culture, and a popular sport, until the 1990s. Now, Seminole entrepreneurs hope to bring it back to its former glory, and make a fortune, in the process.

The Seminole Indians have come a long way, from living and hunting in swamp areas, to owning the Hard Rock chain of restaurants and hotels. Now they’re getting involved in a business venture closely tied to their native culture: alligator wrestling.

Richard Bowers, president of the Seminole Indian tribe of south Florida, says alligator wrestling has immense growth potential as long as there’s always going to be a part of the population who will want to see blood sports. And it doesn’t get much bloodier than going toe to toe with a reptile that could turn a human limb from limb.

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Chinese Babes Strip for Husbands

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I know there’s nothing weird about babes stripping for husbands, but the title can be a bit misleading.

On a drizzling morning, a group of eight young girls, from Guangzhou, China, showed up near a local metro station, and started handing out fliers to male passers-by. There was nothing overly odd about them, apart from the masks covering their faces.

All of a sudden, music began playing, and the girls started dancing while holding signs that read stuff like “Marry me, please!” or “My mum’s been pestering me to get married. Marry me, please!” Their dance quickly turned into a striptease act, with the girls tossing off their clothes, all the way to their underwear.

Chinese-striptease

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You Think She’s Perfect? So Do 2,000 Other Guys

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Young Zhang Mengqian, a university student from China, got more than she bargained for when her “boyfriend-wanted” card caused a stir among her male colleagues.

On March 8, to celebrate Women’s Day, the University of Electronic Science and Technology of China, in Chengdu, gave every girl student a bland piece of paper, and asked each of them to put down their wish and post it on a wishing wall.

Here’s what freshman Zhang Mengqian wrote on her card: “My name is Zhang Mengqian, a grade one student, and I think I am attractive, but strangely I can’t find a boyfriend. However I believe in destiny. If you have the same wish, please come under my dormitory building and shout for my name in between 12:30 to 12:50 on March 11th, and I will observe you secretly up on the building. If you’re my type, I’ll come down to meet you.”Combine that with a ratio of male and female students of 25:1, and yo have a real horn-fest on your hands.

Zhang Mengqian message became so popular that on noon of March 11, over 2,000 male students gathered in front of her dorm building. Not all of them were brave enough to shout out her name, though, but that’s maybe because none of those who did had any luck.

So i hope you learned your lesson Zhang Mengqian, NEVER ask for a boyfrind in a country with over one billion inhabitants. That’s a big “no-no”!

via Quirky China

Chinese-boyfriend-wanted

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Melbourne Hosts World’s Longest Lunch

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Over 900 people took part in the World’s Longest Lunch event, during the 2010 Melbourne Food and Wine Festival.

On March 12, Melbourne weather was almost perfect for the longest lunch in the world. nearly 1,000 hungry strangers gathered at a 400-meter-long table, and enjoyed several scrumptious dishes and various types of wine. The oriental theme of this unusual event included entertainment like dragon dances, martial arts and parasol dancers.

But the true unsung heroes of the 2010 World’s Longest Lunch were the servers. This disciplined fleet of swift-footed soldiers made sure everyone was served almost at the same time. And that’s no small feet.

Photos by Agencies via CCTV

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The Mysterious Midnight Knitter of New Jersey

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The small town of Cape West May, New Jersey is currently being “terrorized” by a group of “despicable” people who wrap trees, stop signs and even lamp posts in knitted covers.

You can clearly understand why the local authorities want them brought to justice, right? Of course you can’t, but they do offer a useful explanation: “It’s bright, it’s pretty … but in a community and in law your rules have to be consistent.” In other words, they want the people behind the Mystery Knitter project to come clean. But without the mystery, would something like this even be worth mentioning?

Signs of the Midnight Knitter first appeared in Cape West May, a few months ago, and since then more and more knitted covers keep showing up, over the cover of darkness. No one know who’s responsible for all this, but pretty much everyone loves their work (except authorities, of course).

One of the Midnight Knitter members told the Daily News a trio of knitters is knitting donated yarn and placing their work around the city, at night. He described their work as a form of graffiti, without the destructive effect. And everyone agrees it’s a lot better than someone spray-painting their walls.

via PressOfAtlanticCity

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Pig Beauty Contest Held in China

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The Pig Contest of Guanshan Village, Guangdong Province, China, is a centuries old tradition dating back to the Qing Dinasty.

Hundreds of thousands of tourists, from all over China, travel to Guanshan, every year, to take a look at the hundreds of pigs on display at the Pig Contest. This year, around 500 oinkers were sacrificed, cleaned up and set on display to be admired by passers-by.

After the most handsome pig is allected, the festivities end in a gargantuan feast, when the tasty participants are sliced up and served to the public.

Photos via Xinhua

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