Shocking Mexican Drinking Game Has People Electrocuting Themselves for Fun

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‘Toques’, an increasingly popular Mexican drinking game, is both literally and figuratively shocking! Played among friends who want to affirm their macho status, the bizarre game involves participants electrocuting themselves while drinking to see how much they can handle.

“The drunker people get, the more voltage they can generally handle,” said Javier Rodriguez, who conducts the game in Mexico City’s Condesa neighborhood. “I’ve seen party-goers pass out after 100 volts, although it usually has something to do with what they’ve been drinking.” He visits all the bars and restaurants in the area every day, starting at 3pm and playing into the wee hours of the morning, equipped with a ‘shock box’ containing the metal handles that players have to touch in order to complete the electrical circuit.

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Indian Village Plants 111 Trees Every Time a Girl Child is Born

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While a vast majority of Indians continue to prefer sons, a small village in the Indian state of Rajasthan has its own unique tradition of celebrating their daughters. Since 2006, the residents of Piplantri village, in southern Rajasthan’s Rajsamand district, have been planting a whopping 111 trees to celebrate the birth of a girl!

Given that an average of 60 girls are born each year, the villagers have managed to plant over 250,000 trees so far – including varieties like Neem, Indian Rosewood, and Mango. The community of 8,000 residents is also dedicated to making sure that the trees survive and attain fruition as the girls grow up.

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Male Belly Dancers Are All the Rage in Turkey These Days

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If you thought belly dancing was exclusive to women, you’re in for a surprise. Believe it or not, male belly dancing is a real thing in Turkey, and it’s totally in vogue. Sporting designer stubbles and dressed in skirts decorated with coins and shimmering tassels, the dancers jerk their hips to Turkish tunes, enthralling their audience with their exotic moves.

Interestingly, these male performers are not a recent phenomenon. Known as ‘zennes’, they used to be a regular feature at the courts of Ottoman Sultans, because Muslim women were not permitted to perform on stage at the time. But as the 600-year Empire declined and society modernized, women took on more public roles. The number of female belly dancers rose, and the number of zennes slowly declined.

Although they haven’t made an appearance for decades, interest in the ancient art form is now at a new peak. It all started with the Islamic-rooted Turkish government’s attempt to revive the nation’s conservative Ottoman past. Apart from the government’s attempts, the enthusiasm among the nation’s population for the Ottoman-era culture has helped improve the popularity of male belly dancing.

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Buying Love at Bulgaria’s Roma Bridal Market

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The Romani people, who constitute one of Bulgaria’s largest ethnic minorities, have a unique marriage tradition – a ‘bride market’. Held four times a year on various religious holidays, the market is a chance for poor families in the community to arrange financially beneficial marriages for their children.

The families that gather in the city of Stara Zagora for the festival are part of a gypsy community of 18,000 Roma known as Kalaidzhi. They are traditionally coppersmiths, and among the most poverty-stricken people in the nation. The bride market is a chance for these families to get together, catch up on gossip, and arrange matches for their adolescent children. The event is a colorful one, with grannies dressed in traditional Kalaydzhii long skirts, and children running about and eating candyfloss.

The prospective brides are usually dressed provocatively in mini skirts, with gobs of mascara, flashy jewellery and towering heels. They dance alongside their male suitors on car hoods, which is quite rare in a community that generally does not allow youths to mingle with the opposite sex. In fact, the Kalaidzhi, who are devout Christians, take girls out of school at age 15 to keep them away from temptation.

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Humane Bullfighting in Costa Rica – No one Can Hurt the Bull but the Bull Can Kill Anyone

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While the bullfights of Spain and Mexico generally don’t end well for the bull, Costa Ricans prefer to do things differently. Since cattle are revered as a source of income for thousands of farming families in the nation, they don’t consider it practical to kill bulls for sport. Although bullfights are a main event at Zapote – the annual Costa Rican bull festival – the bulls always leave the arena unscathed.

Corridas de toros (bullfights) are held all through the year in Costa Rica, but Zapote’s is considered to be the country’s grandest event. At the end of each year, cattle farmers from all over the nation haul their bulls and gather at the capital, for the much-awaited celebration. And instead of glorifying man’s power over the beast, the bullfights during Zapote celebrate bulls. The animals are never to be killed, only dodged.

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Indian Priests Smash Coconuts on Devotees’ Heads in Bizarre Good Luck Ritual

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Every year, thousands of devotees travel to a remote village in the South Indian state of Tamil Nadu to put themselves through a gruesome ritual that they hope will bring them good health and success. Believe it or not, men, women and even children willingly permit priests to smash hard coconuts on their skulls!

Breaking coconuts on a sacred stone as an offering to the deity is a common practice in South Indian temples. But breaking them on one’s own head is quite rare, and viewed as an extreme display of devotion. Several devotees squat on the floor in a line, waiting patiently as the temple priests approach with a sack of coconuts. One priest holds the heads firmly, while the other one brings down the coconuts without hesitation. The whole process is completed in a matter of minutes.

Some devotees can be seen wincing in pain as the coconuts come crashing on to their heads. Some massage their heads, while others promptly collect the broken pieces as holy offerings. Surprisingly, there are a few who don’t flinch at all – these people are often in a deep meditative state of prayer. Nonetheless, medical staff are always present to tend to serious injuries.

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The Eerie Smoked Corpses of Papua New Guinea

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For centuries, the Anga tribe of Papua New Guinea’s Morobe Highlands have practiced a unique mummification technique – smoke curing. Once smoked, the mummies aren’t buried in tombs or graves; instead, they are placed on steep cliffs, so that they overlook the village below. The very sight of a string of charred, red bodies hanging off the mountains might seem quite grotesque, but for the Anga people, it’s the highest form of respect for the dead.

The process itself is carried out carefully and thoroughly by experienced embalmers. At first, the knees, elbows and feet of the corpse are slit, and the body fat is drained completely. Then, hollowed-out bamboo poles are jabbed into the dead person’s guts, and the drippings are collected. These drippings are smeared into the hair and skin of living relatives. Through this ritual, the strength of the deceased is believed to be transferred to the living. The leftover liquid is saved for later use as cooking oil.

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Nepal’s Worshiped Child Goddesses Whose Feet Cannot Touch the Ground until Puberty

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Nepal is a land of mysticism, where a select few pre-pubescent girls from the Newar clan are worshiped as ‘Kumari Devi’ or ‘Virgin Goddess’. According to tradition, Durga (the Hindu goddess of destruction) herself is incarnate in young girls belonging to the silver and goldsmith community. Until they attain puberty, Kumaris are worshipped as deities and deemed protectors by thousands of adoring Hindus and Buddhists in Nepal.

To prove that she is the chosen one, a prospective Kumari must go through over 30 tests. Initially, high priests choose girls based on their physical characteristics – with a slender neck like a conch shell, gentle eyes like a cow, and other special traits. In the next stage, the girl must pass through a series of unusual trials. In one test, she is placed in a darkened room with severed animal heads and hideously masked dancing men, while her reaction is observed. In another test, she must correctly identify the items worn by her predecessor (similar to the ritual used in Tibet to choose a new Dalai Lama).

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Fishing with Otters in Bangladesh – A Dying Tradition

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Otter Fishing has been a long-standing tradition in Bangladesh. For centuries, fishermen have been using trained otters to lure fish into their nets – a unique technique passed on from father to son that has long died out in other parts of Asia. Bangladeshi fishermen have managed to keep it alive so far, but the future of otter fishing seems uncertain due to the dwindling  population of fish in the country’s rivers.

As a part of the tradition, fishermen lower their nets into the water close to the banks of the river. As they do this, their pet otters also dive tails up into the water with a splash. The animals do not catch the fish themselves, but chase them towards the fishing nets for the fishermen to haul in. Otter fishing is generally practiced during the night, with some fisherman throwing their nets until dawn trying to catch enough fish to support their families. Their hard work yields anywhere between 4 and 12 kilos of fish and shrimp every night.

A fishing family makes about $250 a month with the modest catch. “Our job depends on the otters,” said Shashudhar Biswas, a fisherman from Narail district in southern Bangladesh. “The otters manage to spot fish among the plants, then the fish swim away and we stay close with our nets. If we did it without them, we wouldn’t be able to catch as many fish,” his son Vipul added.

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Taiwan’s Notoriously Dangerous Beehive Rocket Festival

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When I light a firecracker, I make sure to run at least 10 yards away before it pops. That’s how terrified I am of the noise and sparks. So when I watched a video of Taiwan’s Beehive Rockets festival, I was quite shocked. These crazy people deliberately run into bursting firecrackers. They dance in clusters as hundreds of crackers go off, allowing the sparks to rain on them. Like I said – crazy!

The Yanshui Beehive Rockets Festival is one of the oldest folk festivals in Taiwan and the third largest in the world. It has been celebrated for over 180 years in the southern district of Yanshui. Its origins date back to 1885, when a cholera epidemic had gripped the district. Due to primitive medical facilities, the disease consumed thousands of victims. Locals lived in a state of fear and prayed to Guan Di, the god of war, to save them.

So what exactly is a Beehive Rocket? Essentially, it is a multiple launcher of bottle rockets. Thousands of bottle rockets are arranged in rows in an iron-and-wooden framework that looks like a beehive. When the contraption is ignited, the rockets shoot out rapidly in all directions. A deafening, bee-like buzzing sound fills the air. The dazzling explosives whiz and whirl across the sky and into the crowds of dancing people surrounding the beehive.

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Goanna Pulling – Playing Tug of War with Your Neck

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If you’re as ignorant as I am, you’re probably scratching your head and asking yourself “what the heck is a goanna?” It’s a lizard species, but don’t worry, no animals are hurt in the unusual sport known as goanna pulling.

Goanna Pulling is basically tug of war with a bizarre twist – instead of their hands, competitors must use their heads to pull each other over the line and win the game. The rules are pretty simple: two people go (literally) head to head on the goanna pulling pad. They get down on all four, with their bellies touching the board and their heads held high. This position makes participants look a lot like goanna lizards, hence the name of the game, in case you were wondering. The two opponents each place their palms behind  a white line traced on the board, and a referee puts a large leather belt around their heads. As soon as he give the signal, the two contestants must use their upper body strength -their neck muscles especially – to pull the other guy past the line and win the game.

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You Think Tractors Can’t Dance? Check Out Tractor Square Dancing

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It’s strange, but true – tractor square dancing is a real thing. It involves daisy chains and do-si-dos too.  But instead of people dancing on their feet, four seated couples maneuver vintage tractors to complete the moves.

Laurie Mason-Schmidt, the caller for Farmall Promenade (the most popular tractor square dancing group), said: “We are all from Nemaha, Iowa. We have real jobs, believe it or not.” Since it isn’t an organized sport, there are no real statistics available on how many other such groups exist. Most people only come together to perform at one-time events.

The origins of tractor square dancing can be traced back to the fifties. An ad campaign in 1953 by tractor manufacturer International Harvester is believed to have started it all. The ad aimed to show off the fast hitching abilities of their Farmall Super-C tractor. It came with the latest technology (back then) that allowed farmers to switch implements as easily as changing dance partners.

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Caga Tio – Catalonia’s Wacky Present-Pooping Christmas Log

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Caga Tio is a Christmas tradition in the Catalonian region of Spain. Caga is pronounced caca, and it means ‘poop’. Tio means ‘tree trunk’ or ‘uncle’. So it is basically a tradition of the pooping tree trunk. What does the trunk poop? Why gifts, of course!

The Caga Tio is a small log of wood with a painted face and two front legs. It makes an appearance in homes every year on the 8th of December, on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception. Children keep the log as a pet until Christmas, feeding it and keeping it warm. They believe the log will grow if they feed it properly.

There is no such thing as a growing log, of course. The parents actually replace the logs every few days with larger ones. It’s easy for families who live in the country; they just go outside, find a piece of wood and paint a face on it. Urban parents have a tougher time. They have to trek into the woods to find larger Caga Tios. But mostly they just buy new ones from shops. The Caga Tio is done growing by Christmas Eve or Christmas Day. The full grown log is placed in the center of the living room and covered with a large red blanket. Children gather around, sing songs and hit the Caga Tio with sticks repeatedly, until it ‘poops’ out the presents. Earlier, the tradition was to place the log partially in fire, ordering it to defecate. There aren’t many modern households with fireplaces anymore, so now it’s just down to hitting the log.

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Bambu Gila – The Crazy Bamboo Dance of Maluku

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Bambu Gila is a mystical ritual performed in Indonesia’s Maluku Islands, where a group of strong men struggle to control a piece of bamboo from moving around like crazy as if it were possessed by an unseen power.

The origins of Bambu Gila, or Crazy Bamboo, are unknown, but it is believed the ancient ritual was once used to induce a fearless fighting mentality before going to war. Today, the once warring tribes of Maluku live in piece and this unique tradition has been reduced to a popular tourist attraction. Preparations for Bambu Gila start with a special ceremony in which the local shamans ask permission from the spirits that still dwell in the nearby bamboo forests to cut down a log for the famous dance. Crazy bamboos are  brought from Mount Gamalama, the volcanic mountain in Ternate, Northern Maluku, where the spirits are believed to be the strongest, cut to a specific size, cleaned and rubbed with coconut oil. During the actual ritual, seven of the strongest villagers are selected to handle the bamboo which supposedly starts to move by itself and becomes increasingly heavier and more difficult to control, after a ginger-chewing shaman recites strange mantras and blows incense into it. Although it’s hard to believe there are supernatural forces at work, the performers put on quite a show that attracts thousands of visitors from all over Indonesia and beyond.

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The Game of Gostra – Running Up a Greasy Wooden Pole in Malta

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Every year, on the afternoon of the last Sunday in August, brave young men from all over Malta compete in the traditional game of “gostra”, trying to run all the way to the top of a long greasy pole and snatch one of the three prizes.

Dating back to the Middle Ages, the game of gostra was practiced all through the festive summer months, in various locations around the islands of Malta and Gozo. A wooden pole measuring about 10 meters long was mounted on a coal barge and towed to harbor towns and seaside villages around the Maltese coast, where it was smeared with grease and animal fat. Brave local men would try to run up the pole and reach one of the symbolic flags at the top in order to claim a prize. Today, the traditional game is only held in the towns of Msida and Spinola Bay, in honor of St. Joseph and St. Julian. The pole stretches out into the water, and only half of it is covered in grease, but in order to have a higher chance of reaching the flags before slipping off the slippery wood, most competitors prefer to run up the pole, hoping they can maintain their balance long enough to snatch one of the coveted prizes. This sometimes causes them to fall awkwardly hitting the log on their way down into the sea, and injure themselves.

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