If you've ever traveled to another country, you know that customs can be extremely different around the world. Sometimes, these new rituals and traditions just take a little while to get used to - but in other cases, the strange practices of other cultures can seem downright repulsive. This list is of the foreign practices that most shock Americans, from eating bugs to exhuming corpses.
Cannibalism in New Guinea
The Korowai tribe of New Guinea practices cannibalism as a ritual to protect their members from a particular demon known as the khakhua. The Korowai believe that the khakhua invades the body of a living person and consumes him or her from the inside. The tribe then kills the affected person and eats almost their entire body as a way to get revenge on the demon and justice for its victim. This ritual is becoming less and less common, however, as the tribe is exposed to the outside world.
Exhuming and Parading Corpses in Indonesia
The Toraja people will periodically exhume the bodies of their loved ones, put special clothes on them, and parade them around the village. The purpose of this ritual is to clean the bodies, their clothing, and their coffins. If the person died outside the village, his or her body will be paraded from the place they died back into the village, to ceremoniously bring them home.
Tossing Babies Off a Tower in India
For centuries, families at Baba Umer Durga, a Muslim shrine near Sholapur, India, have been tossing their babies from the top of a tower, where they fall about 50 feet before landing on a bed sheet held by spectators waiting below. This terrifying (but apparently, harmless) ritual is intended to bring prosperity and good fortune to families - and it is claimed that no babies have ever been injured in the practice.
Land Diving in Vanuatu
This custom might not be repulsive, but it is cringe-worthy. In Vanuatu, a small island nation in the South Pacific, men participate in a yearly harvest ritual called land diving. It's like bungee jumping, but the platforms from which the participants jump are hand-made by the villagers, and they use vines, not bungee cords, as tethers. The goal is to make the vine just long enough so that the jumper's shoulders touch the ground. If the vine is just slightly too long, the jumper will probably break his neck.
Sky Burial in Tibet
A sky burial is the practice of chopping up the body of a dead person and setting out the pieces to be eaten by vultures. The tradition is practiced by Tibetans and Mongolians, as part of their religion, Vajrayana Buddhism. They believe that a body is only an empty shell, and that the vultures who feast on it will carry the soul of the deceased person up to heaven.
Body Suspension in the United States
Body suspension is the act of hanging a person by several hooks which pierce through the flesh. The Native American Mandan tribe practiced the tradition annually for thousands of years; it was a rite of passage for young warriors and a celebration of the creation of the earth. Body suspension is still practiced today, though it has shed most of its ritualistic elements and become more of a personal spiritual experience and test of strength.
Eating Dogs in Vietnam, Korea, & China
Dog is a popular dish in Vietnam, Korea, and some parts of China. The southern Chinese city of Yulin slaughters about 10,000 dogs every year for their dog meat festival. Many Chinese people believe that eating dog on the summer solstice will bring good luck for the rest of the year.
Drinking Blood in Kenya
The Maasai people in Kenya regularly drink cow's blood mixed with milk. Interestingly, they don't often eat beef. They routinely harvest the blood and milk from their cows without killing them instead.