25 Crazy Rites of Passage

Posted by on January 18, 2012

Whether you celebrate your coming of age with a birthday party or by permanently disfiguring your body, most cultures on earth recognize the importance of this stage in an individual’s life. The crazy rites of passage in this list commemorate a young adults’ entry into adulthood and the agonizing things they are willing to endure to earn the respect of their peers.


Naghol (Land Diving)


Conceptually similar to bungee jumping, land diving is done with vines instead of elastic chords and the objective is to come as close to death as possible. Performed by the Vanuatu people, the jumper’s goal is to brush his head on the ground. If he survives, he’s a man. A very, very lucky man.


Hamar Cow Jumping

This rite of passage must be performed by men of the Hamar tribe in Ethiopa before they are allowed to marry. First, the young boy’s closest female friends and family chant while they are whipped by the men of the tribe. The scars that are left on their backs are meant to be a testament to the pain they were willing to endure for the initiate. Afterwards, four castrated bulls are lined side by side, the naked boy runs across their backs, and voila…he’s a man.


Masai Lion Hunt

The Maasai people of Tanzania and Kenya replace their warrior class every 6-10 years. The next generation of warriors are then circumcised and moved into a warriors camp where they will live until the next generation takes over. In the past the Maasai had to stalk and kill a lion with only a spear before they were considered warriors, but today the lions are protected under government animal legislation. Let’s face it, you know you’ve crossed into manhood when the government has to stop you from killing too many lions.


Vision Quest

Similar to the Aborigine practice of sending young men to fend for themselves in the wilderness (#20) although not nearly as involved, many Native American tribes would send their young men off into the wild for several days during a period of intense fasting in order to find direction for their lives and become adults.


The Ogiek Roar


After being ceremonially circumcised, the young boys and girls of the Okiek tribe in Kenya are secluded from the adults for several months. During their seclusion they paint themselves white using clay in order to take on the appearance of a wild creature and they are then haunted by a mythical beast whose roar can be heard at night. They become adults when the elders show them the instrument used to produce the roar and they do it for themselves.