- Introduction to Superstitious Festivals in India
- Happy Snakes on Nagpanchami
- Holy Cow
- Every Dog has its Day
- Dare to Walk on Fire during Thimithi
- Tiger Parade in Puli Kali
- Worship Your Weaponries during Astra Puja
- Get Beaten in Lathmar Holi
- Get a taste of Immortality in Kumbh Ka Mela
- Masquerade as Eagles in Garudan Thokkam Festival
- Get Pierced during Thaipusam
Introduction to Superstitious Festivals in India
By: Shyamli Thakur
Mark Twain had rightly described India as ‘the great grandmother of traditions’ due to the presence of multifarious cultures and tribes that take pride in their own heritages.
The citizens of the seventh largest country in the world believe in different legends, speak exotic languages and follow unique traditions.
The Incredible India will definitely amaze you with its vibrant ambiance, warmest hospitality and mystical spirituality.
The country also guarantees to give you heebie-jeebies and make your blood run cold with the centuries-old spine-chilling superstitious festivals.
Here, we’ve listed eccentric superstitious festivals that natives of India celebrate with extravagant pomp:
Happy Snakes on Nagpanchami
Did you know that India is called ‘a land of snake-charmers’ because Indian mythology narrates numerous tales about snakes in association with many Hindu deities.
So it should be a digestible fact that the natives worship snakes to appease the snake-god by making an offering of milk and flowers.
Moreover, worshipping snakes is believed to cleanse the evils and sins that one might have committed. Also, natives have unwavering belief that once you please the snake-god, you and your family won’t ever be harmed by snake.
It’s not just an expression that many commonly use; cows are considered a sacred animal in Hinduism. In India, cows are believed to be the embodiment of goddess Lakshmi, deity of wealth!
This docile creature is given an honourable position of a mother for it provides life-sustaining milk to people all over the world.
It is probably for its generosity that people in India worship cow on the auspicious day as per the lunar calendar.
In fact, it is an unforgivable sin to feast on cow’s meat amongst Hindus in India.
Every Dog has its Day
Dogs are not just the best friends of humans; they are also worshipped by Hindus in India.
From being guardians of the heaven to the mounts of the Hindu deities to an associate of Lord Shiva, dogs enjoy the prerogative of a significant position in Hindu mythology.
In fact, dogs are mainly worshipped in some parts of India to get rid of malefic effects during Diwali.
Many natives believe that if a person is facing lots of failures and unhappiness in life, he should feed the dog to find some respite.
Dare to Walk on Fire during Thimithi
One of the most unusual superstitious festivals in India is ‘Thimithi’ in which the daredevils courageously walk barefoot on the bed of burning wood or coal.
Completing this insane act is believed to impress a Hindu deity, Draupadi, who will give blessings to have your desires fulfilled.
According to the epic religious text Mahabharata, Draupadi herself had to once walk on blazing fire to prove her purity.
Tiger Parade in Puli Kali
Puli Kali is an entertaining festival that’s celebrated with much enthusiasm in Kerela during Onam celebration.
The name translates to ‘play of the tiger’ where natives, painted as tigers in mustard-yellow and black colours rhythmically prance around the streets.
The spectators enjoy the frolicking stance of the tigers as the participants flamboyantly display the connection between nature and human.
Worship Your Weaponries during Astra Puja
‘Astra Puja’ is celebrated with fervour on the ninth day of the grand Indian festival ‘Navaratra’.
The natives believe that centuries ago goddess ‘Chamundeshwari’ worshipped her arms, and mounts before going on a war against the demon ‘Mahushasur’.
People deduced that the victory was due to worshipping of weaponries. And ever since people pay reverence to weapons that shield them from the evils.
Get Beaten in Lathmar Holi
The word ‘lath’ means ‘stick’ whereas ‘mar’ stands for ‘beating’. So the literal translation of ‘lathmar’ is ‘to get beaten by the stick’.
This festival takes place few days prior to Holi, the festival of colour in India.
As per the age-old mythology, Lord Krishna had travelled to meet his beloved Radha. While he was there he ended up teasing her friends.
The girls retaliated to his unacceptable action by running after him with sticks.
To recreate what is believed to have happened years ago, women try to hurl sticks at men. Those who get beaten have to dress up like a woman.
Get a taste of Immortality in Kumbh Ka Mela
The meaning of the words ‘kumbh’ and ‘mela’ mean ‘pot’ and ‘fare’ respectively.
The legend holds the story that long ago there was a tug-o-war between demons and gods. The goal was to win a pot of elixir that would grant immortality.
During the war, few drops from the pot got spilled in four pilgrimages sites in India.
Millions of people take dip in the holy water in the hope that their sins get washed away, and receive the essence of purity and immortality.
Masquerade as Eagles in Garudan Thokkam Festival
‘Garudhan Thokkam’ (eagle hanging) is the festival to pay obeisance to the goddess Kali, a Hindu deity, for defeating the demon, Darika.
The myth states, after killing the demon, the goddess quenched her thirst by drinking eagle’s blood.
To quench the deity’s thirst, Indians organize a ritualistic procession in which performers dress as eagles.
Dressed as eagles they dance to the powerful gyrating rhythm of traditional instruments.
This night-long festival ends once the main dancers are pierced with a metal hook on the back.
The dancers are then hung in a wooden pedestal that’s taken around the temple thrice.
Get Pierced during Thaipusam
‘Thaipusam’ is the festival that gives chills just with its description. The devotees who have sworn to celibacy go on a 48-day long fast when they also practice silence.
At the end of the period, they severely pierce their body with hooks, skewers and spears. The reason is to pay respect to the god ‘Murugan’ for vanquishing the demon ‘Surapadman’.
As the myth goes no matter how scary and uncomfortable the pierces look, the devotees feel no pain at all.
Enjoy being a part of these eccentric festivals!
Written by: Shyamli Thakur
Also by Shyamli Thakur: Superstitions in India