5 Mind-Blowingly Weird Religious Sites You've Never Heard Of
Most religious practices look kind of ridiculous out of context. We can make fun of "wacky" foreign religions all we want, but unlike Christianity, almost none of them feature a holy foreskin. Still, we did say we can make fun of them all we want, so let's go ahead and do that now.
The Phra Nang Cave Is Chock Full O' Dongs (NSFW)
The legend of Phra Nang is different depending on who tells it, but what's generally accepted is that:
1) She was some sort of divine being whose spirit is said to inhabit a cave in southern Thailand.
2) She craves the D.
It's unclear why visitors started bringing Phra Nang literal and metaphorical wood. Maybe it has something to do with her fertility powers. Maybe they thought it was really funny.
But god help you if you piss her off. After workers building a new luxury resort nearby accidentally torched Phra Nang's beloved collection, the resort's generator blew up during their grand opening. It seems likely that those people just weren't that good at handling combustibles, but hey, we don't know. It could have been dick spirits.
The Paluang Temple To The Holy Automobile
According to local legend, villagers of Karang Dawa once found a stone shaped like a car. After standing around and agreeing that it was some weird shit, alright, they threw it back into the ocean. But it kept getting washed back up in the same spot. Taking this as a sign that god is a gearhead, the villagers built a place of worship at that site, which is now the Paluang Car Temple. Everyone claims it's hundreds of years old, which is especially impressive considering that the car in question is a VW bug, license plate and all.
Keep in mind that this is an isolated village on a tiny Indonesian island that's mostly forest, so it would indeed be weird to see a car. It would be weird to hear one too, but during the semiannual celebration of Tumpek Krulut, all the villagers claim to hear a nearby car engine -- a sure sign that the goddess Ratu Hyang Mami will bless the villagers with wealth and prosperity.
The Buddhist Temple Of Beer
At first glance, the Wat Pa Maha Chedi Kaew in Thailand looks like a regular Buddhist temple.
Get up close, however, and it starts looking like Buddha has a drinking problem. Yes, the temple owes its soothing neutral color scheme to brown bottles of Chang, a favorite local beer, and green bottles of an ancient Thai concoction called Heineken. Built all the way back in the ancient 1980s, it's often called Million-Bottle Temple, which isn't strictly accurate. It's actually made of 1.5 million bottles.
It has since become a beloved environmentalist landmark, reminding partiers in Thailand to at least clean up after themselves, even if they can't clean up their lives. The monks are so serious about recycling that they've even found a use for the bottle caps. It's kind of like how Native Americans used every part of a bison, but with beer.
Torture And Bureaucracy Meet In The Dongyue Temple
Taoism envisions the afterlife as a sort of mashup of Office Space and Reservoir Dogs: an elaborate bureaucracy consisting of over 70 departments, the most interesting of which are devoted to inflicting spectacularly bizarre violence. The god Dongyue rules this paperwork-filled abattoir, and Beijing houses a temple dedicated to him. The Dongyue Temple is full of statues and tableaux depicting the afterlife's many departments.
These include the Department of Paying Back Evil with Evil, and the Department for Implementing 15 Kinds of Violent Death to punish the sinners, as well as the Department of Distribution of Medication and the Department of Controlling Theft and Robbery to help the afterlife run smoothly. The Department for Bestowing Happiness and the Department for Increasing Good Fortune and Longevity reward the virtuous, while the Department of Demons and Monsters manages the denizens of hell like a supernatural DMV.
At the temple, you can learn how records move from the Department for Recording Merits all the way to the Department for Increasing Good Future and Longevity. Each department has a convenient collection box (which just might go to supporting the temple's Taoist monks). This isn't the only temple of its kind. Hell, it's not even the weirdest one. That honor might go to the Dongyue temple in Yunnan province, whose official tourism website shows us photos like this:
The Japanese Shrine For Creepy Dolls
A Japanese folk belief holds that if you don't dispose of a doll properly, its soul will stick around and haunt you. Luckily you can avoid pissing off any dolls you've been fearfully hoarding at a shrine like Awashima Jinja, where over time, they will gather into an army that will one day invade the world of man.
That's not a single room. The whole temple is pretty much a giant, deranged toy box. Most of the dolls in Awashima Jinja are hina ningyo, given ceremonially on Girls' Day, when families pray for the health and happiness of their daughters. And by "happiness," we of course mean "that they don't get eaten by thousands of creepy abandoned dolls."
Every year, Awashima Jinja disposes of hina ningyo in an elaborate ceremony. The dolls are all placed onto small boats to the point of overflowing, and then sent to float in the ocean. This ritual (nagashi bina) is believed to bring good luck and health to their former owners, because the dolls will take sickness and bad luck with them down to the ocean floor. It's Baby's First Viking Funeral.
And now, here's one's for cats:
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For more, check out 5 Insane Beliefs Of The World's Major Religions and 5 Insane Facts That Will Change How You View Christianity.
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