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Ting Mong – Cambodia’s Creepy Scarecrows

If you ask me, common scarecrows are creepy enough, but the Cambodian Ting Mong carry real firearms and instead of birds they scare off evil spirits.

Scarecrows usually belong in  the fields, protecting villagers’ crops, but in some Cambodian villages you’ll see them in front of houses, by the gate, or on garden paths, and you can bet they’re not there to scare some man-eating birds. Ting Mong are a part of old Khmer culture, and even though Budhism came to Cambodia thousands of years ago, there are still some rural areas where people believe in spirits and their power over the living. These creepy “scarecrows” are actually guardians who ward off evil spirits and protect against disease and death.

Many Khmers believe a powerful force is embodied in the Ting Mong, which will keep spirits from coming inside, and to make them even more effective, they equip the life-size dolls with real or sculpted weapons. Some carry machetes and swords, while other carry modern weaponry like revolvers, AK47s and even sculpted bazookas. Even a bad-ass spirit wouldn’t dare approach a Ting Mong carrying this kind of firepower.

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Lelo Burti – Easter Rugby in the Georgian Countryside

Considered the predecessor of modern Georgian rugby, Lelo Burti is a centuries-old game played every Easter, in the western village of Shukhuti.

Lelo Burti is played only once a year, on Easter Sunday, and only in Shukhuti. Men from the upper and lower parts of the village compete against each other struggling to get a leather ball to a river, on the outskirt’s of their opponents’ half. Whichever team reaches their goal first is declared the winner, there are no other rules.

The morning before the game, participants gather to drink wine from the empty leather ball, before it is filled with 16 kilograms of dirt topped up with some more wine. Before the game begins, the village’s Orthodox priest blesses the ball, and this seems to make it an even more coveted price, as neither of the two halves hold back in trying to control it. Lelo Burti is a primitive tradition that is carried out the same way as it was many generations ago – the two groups smash everything in their paths as they approach the village center, including fences, gardens and orchards, scale walls and scrabble across ditches. As soon as the ball is in play, the game turns into a festival of unrestrained aggression fueled by gallons of previously consumed wine, where getting the ball is all that counts.

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The Unique Burial Customs of Tana Toraja

The Toraja Tribe of South Sulawesi, Indonesia, is known for the cheerful way of treating death, and its unique burial grounds carved in sheer rock.

One of the most beautiful tourist destinations of Indonesia, the green hills of South Sulawesi are home to the Toraja, a tribe that still honors the old Austronesian lifestyle, similar to Nias culture. Most tribe members are Christians, converted during Dutch colonization, but traces of their old beliefs still remain and are most visible during funeral festivities and burial customs. The Toraja are obsessed with death, but not in a tragic sense; to them funerals are a lot like going-away parties celebrated by sacrificing dozens of buffaloes and pigs for a feast enjoyed by the entire community.

The main concern of a Toraja tribe member is to make sure he raises enough money so his family can throw the best party in town, when he leaves this world. Their bodies are stored under the family home for years after their death. During this time the remaining relatives refer to that person not as “the deceased” but as “the sick”, and raise money for the actual funeral, which is usually attended by hundreds of guests. Tourists are welcome to attend the festivities, as long as they don’t wear black or red.

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Raisin Monday at St. Andrews University

Freshmen have always had it a little rough in college, but at the St. Andrews University, in Scotland, their plight at the hand of senior students has become a celebrated tradition called Raisin Monday.

The traditions of Raisin Monday date back to the early days of St. Andrews. New students (also known as “bejants” and “bejantines”) had to show their gratitude to seniors, for showing them the ropes around campus, and a pound of raising was considered an expensive and tasty enough sign of appreciation. With the passing of time, some freshmen started ignoring the custom, so senior students came up with of receipts written in Latin acknowledging the receipt of the pound of raisins. If one of the freshmen students didn’t have such a receipt, he would get doused in one of the local fountains. Another reason for a dousing was the challenge of the receipt, by a senior, for mistakes in written Latin.

Throughout the years since St. Andrews University opened its gates in 1410, the traditions of Raisin Monday have changed according to the times. Nowadays, new students have to buy seniors a bottle of wine as a token of gratitude, and the dousing in water fountains has been replaced by a general fight with shaving foam.

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Ti Jian Zi – The Ancient Art of Shuttlecock Kicking

One of the most popular traditional Chinese arts, Ti Jian Zi, known in the western world as shuttlecock kicking, requires a great deal of skill and practice.

The game of shuttlecock kicking is believed to have been invented sometime during the Han Dynasty (206 BC – 220 AD) and gradually increased in popularity,  to a point where shops that specialized in the making of shuttlecocks began appearing all over China. The art of shuttlecock kicking reached its climax during the Qing Dynasty, when competitions were held between masters of the game from all over the country.

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The Weird Nose Plugs of the Apatani Women

Women of the Apatani Tribe, in India’s Apatani plateau, are famous for the bizarre nose plugs they’ve been wearing since times long passed.

The Apatani, or Tani, are a tribal group of about 60,000 members, often praised for their extremely efficient agriculture, performed without animals or machinery. They have no written record of their history, and traditions are passed down orally, from generation to generation.

One tradition that is quickly fading into the mist of time is the traditional Apatani nose plugs, worn by most of the elder women in the tribe. There was once a time when every woman had to wear these bizarre accessories, but since the middle of the 20th century, the custom began to die. According to the Apatani, the nose plug was born as a way of protecting the women of the tribe. Apparently, Apatani women have always been considered the most beautiful among the Arunachal tribes, their villages were constantly raided by neighboring tribes, and the women kidnapped.

To make themselves unattractive to the other tribes, Apatani women began wearing these hideous nose plugs and tattooing their faces with a horizontal line from the forehead to the tip of the nose, and five lines on their chins. Let’s face it, that turns off any raider in search of beautiful women to have his way with.

But the tradition of the Apatani nose plug hasn’t been practiced by any woman born after 1970, and as time passes, this custom will probably soon be forgotten. Well, at least we still have the Ethiopian lip plug.

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Wet Monday in the Ukraine

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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Chinese Woman Has the Smallest Feet in the World

Ms Liu, a 90-years-old woman from China is the current record holder for the smallest feet in the world.

Foot binding was an important tradition in China until the early 20th century. There are several theories regarding how a gruesome custom like foot binding became so popular, but regardless of which one is true, the outcome is still the same: women suffer excruciating pain, infections and disabilities.

Basically, young girls’ toes and foot arches were brutally broken, without any pain relief, and then bound in tiny shoes that prevented the feet from growing normally. Women with bound feet were actually considered “intensely erotic”. One of these women was Ms. Liu, a 90-year old woman, from Yunnan province, China. Her feet were bound when she was just 5 years old, and she has been living like this for the past 85 years.

Although foot binding was banned in China, and she doesn’t need to wear her tiny shoes anymore, Ms. Liu finds it makes her feet aesthetically pleasing. She may be 90-years-old, but her feet are the size of a 10-year-old girl.

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The Ethiopian lip plug

So what you see in these photos is practically what you get if you decide to marry in some Ethiopian tribes, a woman with a huge round circle through her lower lip and no lower front teeth…That’s right, in order for her to be able to wear that thing, 2 or sometimes all four lower front teeth are yanked out.

Now I’ve always supported cultural diversity, but this and what they do at Phuket Vegetarian Festival, just make me sick. I wouldn’t go out there and try to impose my culture on them but still…I can’t agree with I’m seeing either. I wonder how they kiss in Ethiopia? Even with that thing off, it’s got to be something nasty! Read More »