Gold-Obsessed Man Shows Off Solid Gold Shirt, Takes Pimping to a Whole New Level

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Datta Phuge, a chit fund businessman from Pimpri, India, refers to himself as “The Gold Man of Pimpri” and in order to live up to this image, he has recently commissioned a 22-karat gold shirt weighing 3.2 kilograms that’s bound to make some Western rappers green with envy.

According to India Today, gold-obsessed businessmen and politicians are nothing new in India. Not long ago, a man by the name of Ramesh Wanjale was spotted wearing 2 kilos of gold, then NCP functionary Samrat Moze wore 8.5 kilograms of gold in the form of jewelry and ornaments, but chit fund Datta Phuge found a way to one-up them both. He had a team of 15 goldsmiths working 18 hours a day for over 15 days in order to finish a 3.5 kg woven gold shirt. ”The gold shirt has been one of my dreams,” Mr Phuge told Indian newspaper the Pune Mirror“It will be an embellishment to my reputation as the ‘Gold man of Pimpri’”, Phuge said. His extravagant garment consists of 14,000 gold flowerrings, interwoven with one lakh spangles. It was assembled on a fabric base of imported white velvet, and comes with six Swarovski crystal buttons and an intricate belt, also made of gold.

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Indian Believers Roll in Food Scraps of Higher Caste to Cure Their Illnesses

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A century old ritual in India dictates that those considered low-caste Hindus must roll in the remains of food eaten by members of a higher caste. But it’s not the ritual itself that’s strange. The strange part is that while social activists are actually seeking to outlaw the practice, the ‘low-caste’ Hindus don’t want to stop rolling in the leftovers.

The ritual, called Madey Snana (Spit Bath) is specific to the state of Karnataka, during an annual event at the famous 4000-year-old Kukke Subramanya temple in the coastal district of Mangalore. It is also followed at the Sri Krishna temple in Udupi town. As a part of the century-old Snana, Dalits (members of a lower caste) roll over leftover food eaten by Brahmins (the upper caste) every year, in the belief that all their troubles will disappear and ailments will be cured. It is practiced every year on the festival of Champa Shasti or Subramanya Shasti. Last year alone, 25,000 people rolled over the ‘spit’ of the Brahmins. This happened even as the district administration watched helplessly after their attempts to ban the practice failed.

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The Gulabi Gang – India’s Pink-Wearing Female Vigilantes

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The women of Bundelkhand, in Uttar Pradesh, India, do not need superheroes to come to their rescue. They depend on a group of their own clan – The Gulabi Gang – during times of distress. The gang members are vigilantes who go above and beyond the duties of a local neighborhood crime watch. Their chosen uniform – a strikingly pink sari. Their weapon of choice – the Lathi, a traditional Indian fighting stick. Gender – female only.

In fact, the Gulabi Gang (Gulabi: the color of pink rose), consists of over 10,000 women. And they are a blessing in disguise for many in the overpopulated Bundelkhand region, where people wage daily wars against a corrupt law-enforcement system, infertile lands and the oppressive system of caste hierarchy. But what Bundelkhand is most infamous for is banditry. Disputes are frequently settled by manner of bullets. The Bandit Queen of India, Phoolan Devi, once carried out her operations in the very same region. She would lead her bandits and robbers to seek a vicious retribution, violently attacking the upper-caste villagers. It is in this harsh atmosphere, where life is nothing short of brutal, that the Gulabi Gang has been carrying out its operations for the past two years.

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Indian Men Get Trampled by Cattle in Traditional Ritual

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In villages around the Ujain region, in India’s central state of Madhya Pradesh, men lay down on the ground and have their cattle trample all over them, as part of a bizarre centuries-old ritual.

There are a many things people will do in order to have their prayers answered by their gods, but until today, I didn’t know getting trampled by cattle was one of them. In a weird example of blind faith, dozens of villagers from Bhidawad village and neighboring settlements decorate their cattle with colours and henna in different patterns, then lay down on the ground and get trampled by the confused animals. The ritual takes place on the occasion of Ekadashi, a day after Diwali, the popular Hindu festival of lights, which was celebrated around the world on November 13. The whole village gathers in the streets to witness the painful event that they believe will make Hindu gods answer their prayers. ”This is a traditional festival observed during Ekadashi fast after which the entire village’s cows are made to run over men lying on the ground, ” local Rekha Dubey told reporters. ”We worship the cows before the ritual and also fast for five days and sing hymns during the festival.”

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Dashrath Manjhi – The Man Who Moved a Mountain

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Dasrath Manjhi, a landless farmer from India, made history after he spent over two decades chiseling away at a mountain with rudimentary tools, in order to create a road for his community, when the Government refused to.

If you’re looking for some motivation, stories don’t get much more inspirational than that of Dasrath Manjhi. 53 years ago, he set out to carve a 1mk-long path through a rocky hillside, all by himself, in order to make it easier for his fellow villagers to access schools, markets and neighboring villagers. “This hill had given us trouble and grief for centuries. The people had asked the government many times to make a proper road through the hill, but nobody paid any attention. So I just decided I would do it all by myself,” Manjhi told Indian newspaper Tehelka, in 2007, a shortly before succumbing to the cancer that was plaguing him.  With just his chisel, hammer and shovel, this legendary man turned what was once a precarious one-foot-wide passage into a 360ft-long, 30ft-wide road accessible by bicycle and motorcycle. The hill kept the region’s villages in isolation, forcing people to trek through dangerous terrain for hours just to reach their lands or the nearest market town. Children had to walk eight kilometers to reach school, but thanks to Dasrath Manjhi’s handmade road, that distance has been reduced to three kilometers, and people from over 60 villages now use it every day.

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Gotmar Mela – India’s Centuries-Old Stone Pelting War

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For over three hundred years, the residents of Pandhurna and Sawargaon, two Indian villages located on the banks of the river Jaam, have been engaging in a bizarre stone-pelting ritual called Gotmar Mela that leaves hundreds critically injured and even dead.

The stone war of Gotmar Mela, as its sometimes referred to, takes place every year, on the second day to “Bhadrapad’ (the new moon day). A tree trunk is fixed in the middle of Jaam River, and a flag tied on top of it. On the day of the bloody event, people from Pandhurna and Sawargaon gather on each of the river banks and arm themselves with stones. The bravest of them run towards the tree and try to climb high enough to grab the flag, while the mob on the other side tries to prevent them from doing so by showering them with large stones. The village who manages to snag the flag is declared winner. The rules of Gotmar Mela are pretty simple, but who ever takes part in it knows full well it might be the last thing they do, as hundreds are critically injured and even killed, each year.

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World’s Smelliest Man Hasn’t Bathed in 38 Years

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A lot of people can’t imagine going through a day without taking at least one shower, but 66-year-old  Kailash Singh, from India, hasn’t taken a bath in over 38 years, and says he’s happier than a lot of people who wash their bodies every day.

But what can possibly make a man give up the daily ritual of bathing? Kailash says he told the decision in 1974, shortly after he got married, hoping this would help him have a son. He claims it was priest who guaranteed him a prized son if he followed his advice not to wash or cut his hair. Now, over 38 years later, Kailash Singh is probably the world’s smelliest man, has 6-foot-long dirty dreadlocks and is father to seven daughters and not a single son. despite having been failed by his religious guidance, the old man still doesn’t want to wash his body, and says only a son could change his mind. Although stranger things have happened, fathering a son at 66, with a 60-year-old wife is very unlikely.

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Banking Is Child’s Play – Indian Street Kids Create Efficient Financial System

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They say the banking system is very complicated, but try telling that to a bunch of Indian street kids who set up a model bank with tens of branches all over South-East Asia.

In order to save money for a brighter future, a group of Indian children have created their own bank, where they can deposit their money and take advances whenever they need to. A branch of this unusual financial institution is located in a shelter for homeless runaway teens in New Delhi. It’s here that street children who work come to place their money for safekeeping, and take out development or welfare advances to start a business or invest in things they need for school. The most impressive thing about this bank for kids and teens is that it was initiated, implemented and is operated by children. In fact, Satish Kumar, who was elected bank manager for the New Delhi branch of the children’s development ’khazana’ (Indian for ‘treasure chest’) doesn’t look a day over 12.

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Dining with the Dead at India’s New Lucky Restaurant

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In a land like India, where life and death intertwine so naturally, and reincarnation is such an important part of religion, what better place to build a restaurant than in the middle of an old Muslim cemetery?

They say the milky tea and buttery rolls at the New Lucky restaurant in Ahmedabad, India, are to die for, and I can’t help but wonder if that has anything to do with all the graves scattered between the tables. The bustling establishment is build right on top of a cemetery, but that doesn’t seem to bother the clientele who comes in to enjoy a refreshing cup of milk tea and some soft rolls. In fact, Krishan Kutti Nair, the owner of the creepy restaurant thinks the location is good for business. ”The graveyard is good luck. Our business is better because of it”, he says.

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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.

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Unique Animal Art at the Bikaner Camel Festival

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If you thought your hairstylist was amazing, wait until you see what living masterpieces these Indian camel enthusiasts can create with just scissors and a lot of patience.

Every year, the desert city of Bikaner, in India’s state of Rajasthan, hosts one of the most colorful events in the world – the Bikaner Camel Festival. Home to the only camel breeding farm in India, and one of the largest such farms in all of Asia, it’s only natural this city should have a festival dedicated to the useful humped animal. The popular event takes place over two days, in January, and draws in camel breeders from all over Rajasthan, as well as tourists from all around the world. This homage to camels includes various events, from camel races and rides, to camel haircut competitions and even a camel beauty pageant.

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Indian Woman Has Been on a Hunger Strike for the Last 12 Years

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When someone famous, like the former Ukrainian prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko, goes on a hunger strike, the whole world knows about it, but Irom Sharmila Chanu, an ordinary woman from India, has been on a political fast for the last 12 years, and hardly anyone even knows she exists.

Irom Sharmila Chanu, also known as the Iron Lady of Manipur, went on a hunger strike on November 4, 2000 in an effort to  have the Government of India withdraw the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, 1958 (AFSPA) from Manipur and other parts of India. This draconian act practically gives the military the power to do as they wish, as it prohibits any legal or judicial proceedings against army personnel without the previous sanction of the Central Government. It has taken away the people’s right to protest against atrocities or engage in any lawful democratic activity. Simple civilians can easily be labeled as ‘terrorists’ or ‘suspects’ and taken into custody. According to official figures, 25,000 people have been killed in Manipur alone, since this Act came into force, in 1980. Back then, there were only four insurgent groups in the area, now there are 25 on the army’s watch list.

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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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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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Who Needs an Education When You Can Eat Hot Coal

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People will eat the weirdest things. In the past we’ve featured strange eating habits like munching on bars of soap, gobbling handfuls of sand and eating sponges, but Ambuli Abu, from Coimbatore, India, is the only man I know of who can actually eat red-hot coal.

I’ve seen people consume some of the hottest foods on Earth, but none can even hold a candle to Ambuli Abu, an Indian man who likes his food right out of the fire. The school drop-out has been making a name for himself by eating hot coal and light bulbs. It’s not the career everyone dreams of, but for Abu, this was apparently the best way to achieve his goal of setting a world record. In a video interview, the fire eater says he is aware that his mouth and stomach must be suffering as a result of his eating hot embers, and admits that it does cause him pain, but he tries to keep his heart strong in order to fulfill his dream of becoming a record setter. He adds that just the fact that he can do thins other cannot, keeps him going.

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