We're so afraid of celebrations getting out of hand that you can't even buy real fireworks in much of the Western world. Our definition of getting crazy is buying some plastic beads and showing off our boobs. But in some parts of the world, they still know how to party.
Sure, not everyone will survive the following festivals, but that just makes it all the sweeter for the ones still standing after ...
#6. Explosive Sledgehammer Day
Doing stupid stuff to impress our friends is a grand tradition that has existed ever since one caveman discovered fire and another caveman tried to top him by demonstrating how close he could hold it to his balls. It was just a matter of time until somebody turned it into a holiday involving explosives strapped to sledgehammers. Swing said sledgehammer into the ground and ...
Tales from Mexico
This absurdly dangerous tradition occurs every February in San Juan de la Vega, Mexico, and is part of a celebration of the village's namesake -- San Juanito, the patron saint of fuck yeah let's blow some shit up. We're having a little trouble working out the logic of celebrating a town's patron saint with exploding hammers -- but then who cares about logic, because that moment when the hammer meets the ground and you feel like a real-life Thor must be freaking magical.
El Sol Del Bajio
"GET THEE HENCE ... GROUND!"
But of course when you have an entire village full of people pretending to be Asgardians with the help of not-pretend explosives, it's not all fun and games. People are injured every single year during these shenanigans -- a total of 50 in 2008 alone. And it's not hard to imagine how that could be the case when you watch the poor bastard at the end of this video, who got just a little overzealous about the amount of explosives he strapped onto his hammer. The resulting explosion flips him back like a rag doll and whirls the hammer out of the top of the camera frame, never to be seen again.
Maybe San Juanito caught it. Hopefully not in his saintly skull.
#5. Manasa Devi Festival: Getting Bitten by Venomous Snakes (on Purpose)
As legend has it, an Indian man by the name of Lakhinder was bitten by a snake. Then, no surprise, he died. But his widow Behula prayed to the hindu god Manasa Devi, who brought him back to life -- and not even as, like, zombie-Lakhinder. So today, devotees to Manasa Devi celebrate this by hosting a traditional festival during which people bathe themselves in herbs and then let a bunch of cobras bite them.
That's right: They. Let. Venomous. Cobras. Bite. Them.
"I said bite my face! No ... stop licking my forehead!"
So why isn't this known as the Annual Mass Death by Snake Venom Festival? Well, like a Big Mac, the secret lies in the special sauce -- the herbs that they bathe in and eat prior to the festival. They're an herb called Eklavi that, according to the participants, nullifies the effects of the cobra venom. But goddamn, that doesn't change the fact that deadly venom is being pumped into their bloodstreams. Or that holy shit they're allowing cobras to sink their monstrous fangs into their flesh again and again:
Because you needed to see a better shot of this. You're welcome.
During the course of the festival, the villagers parade the participants around on litters with the snakes hanging from their skin like the most metal piercings ever. Also, the devotees aren't allowed to speak anything except mantras for the duration of the festival. Given the fact that they have snakes gnawing on them the entire time, we're thinking those mantras are something along the lines of "Ow ow that hurts snakes FANGS FUCK AAAAHHHH!" We hope at least one of them goes something like "Hey, guys? I think those herbs maybe weren't quite adequate protection and I need some medical attention now. Because I'm dying, you see."
#4. Agni Keli: Throw Torches at Your Friends Day
Every year in April, an eight-day festival is held at Shree Kateel Durga Parameshwari Temple in India, and on the second night they host an event called the Agni Keli. During the Agni Keli, also creatively dubbed the Indian Fire Festival, thousands of spectators gather around the streets of Mangalore to watch a parade of bare-chested men march down the road and light hundreds of palm fronds on fire. These will soon be projectiles.
The best parties always start with shirtless men huddled around a fire.
They divide themselves into two teams and, for 15 minutes of hell on earth, play a big old game of Satan's dodgeball.
They've been doing this for centuries as a way to pay respect and show honor to their goddess Durga (presumably she's the goddess of gauze and poultices). The men each have five palm fronds that they're allowed to throw, after which they just have to stand there and try to look cool while dodging the opposing team's fiery assaults. Because even when it comes to pelting each other with fire, you've got to have some rules, goddammit.
Their only protection is a thin cloth tied around their waist, and if they get hit, their teammates spray them down with some special holy water called Kumkumarchane -- which we're thinking might be a bit of a mouthful to call out for when you've got a lit torch smoldering its way through your loincloth.
"Kum ... Kumkum ... OH DURGADAMMIT JUST PUT ME OUT!"