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.


Festa de Mocas Nuevas


Performed by the Ticuna people of the Northwest Amazon, this is an initiation into womanhood for all of the girls in the tribe. Beginning at menstruation they are secluded in a small chamber for several months while they are believed to go to the underworld. Eventually she returns and is released after which she is officially a woman.



Considered a rite of passage in ancient Greece, this practice involved the publicly sanctioned relationship between an older man and a younger boy. Many historians believe it coincided with the beginning of a young male’s military career.


Sambian Purification

At seven years old young boys are taken from their mothers and placed in an all-male hut for the next ten years of their life. During this period they engage heavily in nose bleeding, forced vomiting and defecation (by way of sugarcane), and semen ingestion in order to rid themselves of impurities and become men.


Sweet 16

Although we realize internet penetration rates in most developing countries are relatively low, just in case you happen to be an African tribesman or Amazonian warrior checking in on your satellite phone allow us to introduce you to a peculiarity of western culture…the Sweet 16. No blood, no pain, no near death experiences. Sounds pretty boring right? Yea, we agree, so back to the cool stuff…


Matausa Cleansing

In addition to scarification, Papua New Guinea is home to another extreme right of passage. The Matausa tribe believe that a boy will never realize his true strength if his body is not cleansed. In order to rid them of impurity and help them gain the vitality a warrior needs, the young men will first stick two wooden canes down their throats until they vomit. Then reeds are forced up their nostrils and their tongues are stabbed until their blood has been sufficiently purified.


Enemy Sacrifices

A boy living in the Aztec Empire began his military training at 17 and he would only be considered a man once he captured an enemy and brought him back as his prisoner to be sacrificed. His next objective was significantly more difficult however. If he wanted to become a Jaguar or Eagle warrior it would require 20 more sacrifices, and therefore 20 more prisoners.


Mandan Okipa Ceremony

In order for a Mandan boy to become a warrior he had to fast for 4 days without sleeping. On the 5th day the boys were taken into a hut where wooden skewers were forced through their chests and they were hung from the ceiling. They had to smile through the whole, agonizing process, until they finally passed out. Oh, but we’re not done. Immediately after the boys wake up they cut off their little fingers as an offering to the spirits and are welcomed into manhood.


Mardudjara Circumcision


When it is time for a young Mardudjara aborigine to enter manhood, he is led by the tribe’s elders to a secluded place. While one of the elders sits on his chest another will slice of the boy’s foreskin. After enduring this without any form of anesthesia, the boy is then given his foreskin, and must swallow it without chewing. After the circumcision heals the boy is led to an isolated area again where the underside of his penis is cut down to the scrotum and he must stand, bleeding, over a fire. Welcome to manhood.


Bullet Ant Glove


Deep in the jungles of the Brazilian Amazon live the Satere-Mawe tribe. Young boys from this tribe have to wear gloves made of bullet ants with inward pointing stingers as they dance for 10 minutes without flinching. Unfortunately for the boys, the bullet ants have the most painful sting of any insect. It causes paralysis and throbbing pain for up to 24 hours.


Female Infibulation

Practiced in parts of Africa, the Middle East, and Asia, this gruesome and often life threatening ritual is also known as female circumcision. During the procedure the labia and clitoris are removed after which a wall of flesh forms across the vagina. A small hole is then pricked in it to allow for menstruation and urine.