Strange Festive Habits

chcgrvrSt. Patrick’s Day is a very important celebration in Chicago.  In fact, they take it so seriously the each year the Chicago River is dyed a glowing bright emerald green as to celebrate the occasion.

Each year, thousands of cheering onlookers cluster along downtown bridges as members of Chicago Journeymen Plumbers Union Local 130 dump containers of dye into the river from motorboats. The annual tradition immediately precedes the St Patrick’s Day parade.

The union has done the dyeing since 1962 and the hue typically lasts about six to 12 hours.

Off course, St. Patrick’s Day is one day of the year when people of Irish descent all over the world don funny hats, wear bizarre green outfits and drink green beer to honour their ancestry, but all of this is quite benign, compared to some of the rituals which occur in various parts of the globe.

On the Indonesian island of Bali, where most of the local people follow the Hindu religion, they practise a peculiar Tooth Filing ceremony.

Hindus believe that the teeth are the symbol of lust, greed, anger, confusion and jealousy and the custom of filling teeth renders a person physically and spiritually. This ceremony is also a symbol that the person, and it is normally practised on females, has entered from adolescent to adulthood.

This ceremony is executed by smoothing down tooth and eye-tooth. In Hindu Balinese belief system, this celebration helps people to free themselves from all invisible evil forces

On another popular holiday isle, this time Phuket in Thailand, a Vegetarian Festival is held in the ninth month of the Chinese Lunar year, which occurs in September or October.

The Phuket Vegetarian Festival is an annual event held during the ninth lunar month of the Chinese calendar. It is believed that the vegetarian festival and its accompanying sacred rituals bestow good fortune upon those who religiously observe this rite. During this time, local residents of Chinese ancestry strictly observe a 10-day vegetarian or vegan diet for the purposes of spiritual cleansing and merit-making. Sacred rituals are performed at various Chinese shrines and temples and aesthetic displays such as walking barefooted over hot coals and ascending ladders with bladed rungs are performed by entranced devotees known as “Ma Song”.

The belief is that the Chinese gods protect followers from pain and suffering; it’s remarkable how few, if any, people bear scars following the festival.

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