Can it be a coincidence that in the month of May, when the mercury records new highs, a few of the strangest festivals are celebrated across the globe that would make you wonder, “Have they gone bonkers?” Here’s a peek into three such events.
1. The Bun Festival, Cheung Chau, Hong Kong
When: May 1-3, 2017
Significance: In olden days, this was held in celebration of the end of the plague of 1894; in honour of Pak Tai, the Daoist deity and god of the north, who is said to purify the community and pacify the spirits of islanders who died in the plague. The plague was finally wiped out after Pak Tai’s image had been paraded through the streets of the island of Cheung Chau. In recent times, it marks the festive year for the island.
Strangeness: Three large bun towers are erected outside Pak Tai temple during the run up to the parade day – the third day of the festival. On the stroke of midnight, on the parade day, twelve participants race up the three conical bun towers to grab as many buns as they can collect within the three minute time limit. The “Full Pockets of Lucky Buns” award is given to the participant who grabs the most buns.
Organisers & Sponsors: The Bun Festival this year is jointly organised by the Hong Kong Cheung Chau Bun Festival Committee and the Leisure and Cultural Services Department with the support of the Cheung Chau Wai Chiu County Association Limited, the Cheung Chau Rural Committee, the Islands District Office and the Hong Kong Mountaineering Union.
Sponsors include Lukfook Jewellery, Watsons Water and the Islands District Council.
2. Cooper’s Hill Cheese-Rolling, Cooper’s Hill, UK
When: May 29, 2017
Significance: An annual event held on the Spring Bank Holiday at Cooper’s Hill, near Gloucester in England. Celebrated for centuries, it is believed that this event has its roots in a pagan festival that celebrates the return of spring. The Guardian called it a “world-famous event”. The popularity of the event grows each year with contestants coming from all across the world to compete or even simply to watch.
Strangeness: A 9 lb (4.08 kg) round of Double Gloucester cheese is rolled down from the top of the hill and competitors start racing after it. The first person over the finish line at the bottom of the hill wins the cheese.
Organisers & Sponsors: This is a non-organised event on Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust land.
3. Tinku Festival, Macha, Bolivia
When: May 7, 2017
Significance: The word Tinku is from the language of Aymara and it means ‘physical attack.’ The festival is over 600 years old, even before the Hispanic era of South America. The blood spilt is an offering to the earth goddess – Pachamama – to ensure a good harvest for the following year.
Strangeness: This festival involves thousands of men drinking homemade alcohol and then brawling in the street. Men often carry rocks in their hands to have greater force in their punches, or they will just throw them at opponents. A few men also wrap strips of cloth with shards of glass stuck to them around their fists to cause greater damage.
Organisers & Sponsors: N.A.
If you know of any strange festival/event, do mention it in the Comments box below.