13 Of The World's Most Shocking Initiation Rites

The transition into adulthood is an important stepping stone in everyone's life. From the naivety of childhood, into the awkward early ages of adulthood, we experience not only physical changes, but m

The transition into adulthood is an important stepping stone in everyone's life. From the naivety of childhood, into the awkward early ages of adulthood, we experience not only physical changes, but mental, emotional and often spiritual changes as well – changes so significant, they may completely alter our adult selves. Most cultures around the world attach meaning to the coming of age of girls and boys, with important rites of passage being used to symbolize this maturation process. The age of maturation and the rite of passage that occurs is heavily dependent upon the culture itself. Here in the Western world, rites of passage can vary widely, and are often based on belief. Sweet 16 celebrations, celebrating one's graduation from high school, or even sharing a drink with one's parent can symbolize a rite of passage, and a sign of one's entry into adulthood. On the other hand, Maasai coming of age traditions, can begin at the early age of 10 and have a duration of over 10 years before the boys are truly considered men of their tribe. Embarrassing or amazing, coming of age ceremonies are a memorable part of our lives, with some cultures having such elaborate and extensive rituals that some of us would likely be afraid of trying them even as adults. Read on to discover some of the most shocking and extreme coming of age rituals around the world.

13 The Iria Rite Of The Okrika Tribe

12 Cow Jumping Contest Of The Hamar People

11 The Teeth Sharpening Ritual Of The Mentawai Girls

10 Land Diving In Vanuatu

9 The Wysoccan Ritual Of The Algonquin Indians

8 Blood Initiation Of The Matausa Tribe

7 The Bullet Ant Ritual Of The Sateré-Mawé

6 Warrior Training Of The Maasai People

The Maasai people of Kenya and Tanzania have several rites of passage to transition boys into adulthood. When boys turn 10, they begin their celebration by drinking a mixture made of alcohol, cow’s blood and milk, while also consuming large portions of meat. Following these festivities, the boys are ready to be circumcised. During the circumcision the boys cannot flinch, because doing so would make them appear weak. Over the next 10 years the boys train in various areas, including hunting lions.

5 The Whip Match Of The Fulani Tribe

For the boys of the Fulani tribe of Benin to be considered men, they have to complete a ritual called sharo, which requires them to participate in a whip match meant to test their strength, self-control and bravery. The boys choose a long sharpened cane and are pitted against each other in a ring. They then take turns hitting their opponents three times as hard as they can, until one winner is chosen – this is based on which boy displays the best pain tolerance and who was able to inflict the deepest wounds on his opponent.

4 Trial Of Horrors Of The Mandan Tribe

3 Subincision Initiation Of The Mardudjara Aborigines

2 The Hunting Trials Of The Matis People

1 Bloodletting Ritual Of The Sambia Tribe

Initiation for the Sambia tribe of Papua New Guinea begins when the boy turns seven, an age at which he is removed from all females of their tribe and placed in a special house where he will be assisting the elders of his tribe over the next few years. The initiation involves having the boy's skin repeatedly pierced, inducing nosebleeds, and forcing vomiting and defecation by consuming sugarcane. These trials are done to purify the boy's body from any female influences. Once the boys are considered cleansed, they are required to ingest semen, which is considered vital to ignite masculine growth and strength. The boy will spend years repeatedly performing these rituals. Once they are ready to be married, the boys will continue participating in heavy nose-bleeding and cleansing activities to purify themselves of their wives' influence. The boys of the Sambia Tribe are only considered men when they become fathers.


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13 Of The World's Most Shocking Initiation Rites