Hitting puberty is embarrassing enough for all of us but to have it celebrated in public takes embarrassment to a whole new level. Read on to find out how different places in the world celebrate a person’s coming of age with puberty rituals:
#1. Filing of canines
Balinese must undergo a tooth filing ceremony called mesangih or mepandes when they come of age. The Balinese believe filing of canines symbolises removing of evil forces around a person as they believe that teeth represent the six human evils: greed, jealousy, confusion, desire, strong emotions and anger. The ceremony is said to be fairly painless (still did not stop me from cringing!)
#2. Getting stung by bullet ants
There is a tribe called Satere Mawe in the Amazon where boys coming of age have to wear gloves filled with bullet ants. A bullet ant’s sting packs neurotoxins that are 30 times more painful than a common wasp’s sting. Not only that, they have to wear the antsy gloves for 10 minutes straight without crying out loud to prove that they are now ready to become men. Ouch?
#3. Parading naked with shaved heads.
In Eastern part of Ghana, the puberty rites are celebrated in festival called “Dipo” in April. It is believed that if a girl participates in this festival before having sexual relations with any man, she will be a good wife. The girls wear very less clothing and have a part of their heads shaved off. They are given a bath in a river and are fed sweet foods like sugarcane and peanuts. The significance of being half-clothed denotes their transition into adulthood because after that, nobody but their husbands will ever be able to see them again like that.
#4. Land diving
In the small island of Pentecost, Vanuatu, between April and June every year, with vines tied to their feet, men jump from towers around 20 to 30 m tall. This ritual, called Naghol, is to signify fertility for men. The goal is to lightly touch the earth with the top of your head after diving head-first; this signifies blessing of the soil for a good yam harvest. This ritual is a precursor of our modern bungee jumping sport.