Festember ‘16 is a celebration of the arts, music, literature and culture. In essence, it celebrates many of the things that define us as people, and in broader terms, us as society. It allows the student community to come together and revel in things we are passionate about.
Most festivals share a similar purpose, bringing together people with common identities and interests to rejoice in what connects them. Some festivals, however, do it in ways that may seem bizarre or exotic. In the spirit of loving what’s different, we present to you five rather unusual festivals from around the world:
1. Monkey Buffet Festival
Nothing can be as blissful as a delicious Sunday brunch buffet, and residents of Lopburi, Thailand share this experience once a year with our lovable primate cousins. Hundreds of square feet of fruits and vegetables are laid out along the courtyard of an ancient Khmer Buddhist temple, after which the area’s 3000 or so monkeys happily feast for two days straight. The festival is filled to the brim with monkey madness, featuring monkey costume contests, monkey sculptures and even monkey dances.
2. The Redneck Games
Held in the sweltering heat of Dublin, Georgia, the Redneck Games bring the international glory and spirit of the Olympics to the backlands of the rural US. With high octane, cut throat competitive events like watermelon seed spitting, belly flop mud diving, armpit musicals, the three-day event is a wholehearted embrace of hillbilly culture. All proceeds from the event go to the Make-A-Wish foundation, so there is a humanitarian aspect to all this chaos.
This festival marks the beginning of the Thai new year, and has significant cultural and religious value in that region. Aside from performing the traditional rituals that include donations to monks, pouring water over Buddha statues, etc., the youth use the festival as an opportunity to take part in quite possibly the largest water fight in the world. The streets of Bangkok transform into an absolutely drenched arena, dotted with young men and women armed with water guns, pipes, hoses, and even elephants!
4. Konaki Sumo
This is much like the conventional sumo wrestling just with one glaring exception – it involves babies! This event, literally translating to “Sumo of Tears”, is a 400 year old tradition that is held annually at the Sensoji temple in Tokyo. The two wrestlers face each other holding babies, and the baby that starts crying first wins. This is comparable to other coming-of-age ceremonies around the world, like the bar mitzvah or mundan, in India. It’s thought that this increases the health and longevity of the babies, and is a certain tourist puller. No babies hurt in the process!
5. Night of the Radishes
For most, the week before Christmas involves holiday shopping, buying gifts for relatives and friends, gathering supplies for that special dinner, and generally setting a festive mood. In the town of Oaxaca, Mexico, however, people spend that week carving oversized radishes into intricate sculptures. These are then displayed in the town’s main square on the night of the 23rd, where various competitions (with hefty sums of money as prizes) are held to determine the best radish carver of the year. Previous year’s entries have depicted sculptures of baby Jesus nativity scenes, epic battles and even speeches in parliament!
No matter what form a festival takes, it prompts us to reflect on what aspirations, values and beliefs we share, and how they can bridge our differences and make us a stronger, more empathetic society. This Festember promises to do that and a lot more!
Festember is NIT Trichy’s inter college cultural, literary and arts extravaganza. Misconstrued as a “fest in September”, the actual origins of Festember is “a fest to remember”!
For more details, check it out here: Festember.com
[Story Courtesy: Ansh Tayal]