Are religious practices wrong

Being maimed, burnt, killed in the name of religion is not history. The apparent 'progressive' world we live in still practises some horrific brutal rituals, which in spite of being banned by governments worldwide see a large number of participants even today.

Mumbai-based psychiatrist Dr Harish Shetty explains what pushes humans into such activities by saying, “ Man is a beast with really strong urges. Evolution has made the primal creature man rather more altruistic. Regression in culturally approved situations is normal. Some cultures attempt to impose control over communities. Even today mentally challenged people are beaten up in rural areas.”


Here's a short compilation of some of the most inhuman and brutal religious and cultural practices that exist even today.


1) Female Genital Mutilation (FGM)

This ritual with both, a religious as well as a cultural background is the most brutal practice that exists even today.

What is done: Partial or total removal of the external female genitalia (clitoris, labia minora, labia majora) using a rasor of a blade, with or more often without the use of anesthesia.

Where is it practised: Practised in around 27 countries in the sub-Saharan and North-east Africa and a few asian countries including India among the Bohra community.

Why is it done: This ritual which is done in the name of controlling a woman's sexuality, is seen as an essential part of raising their daughters properly, in a way preparing her for adulthood and marriage. It is done to refrain the girls from illicit sexual acts, which as per their definitions is pre-marital sex and masturbation. It is also believed to ensure marital fidelity.


2) Self-flagellation

A ritual of religious significance done in the name of atonement of one's sins is practised widely even today and the people engaging themselves into the act confess that they do not experience any sort of pain as they are in a religious trance.

What is done: It is a ritual involving hitting oneself with a whip or whips of chains with attached blades.

Where is it practised: Practised among the Christian communities in the Phillipines and Mexico on Good Friday and among the Shi'a sect of Islam in countries like India, Pakistan, Iraq and Lebanon during the holy month of Muharram.

Why is it done: Among Christians who practise this ritual, their beliefs of acheiving a higher place in heaven, self-realisation, forgiveness of one's sins and other people's sins is what drives them into the act. While among the Shi'a sect, it is done to commemorate the matyrdom of prophet Muhammed's grandson Hussein and as an act of penance.


3) Impaling

This ritual largely in practise even today involves piercing oneself with sharp dangerous objects.

What is done: The body parts of the participant is pierced with sharp objects like needles, swords, iron rods, spears, guns, etc.

Where is it practised: Very common in India, other south asian countries and in countries like Thailand during the annual vegetarian festival.

Why is it done: The belief that God enters the body of the participant, protection from the evil spirits and the coming of goodluck in the community drives people into practising this ritual.


4) Baby tossing

This ritual which takes place solely in India has been in practise since the past 700 years, making it one of the oldest dangerous ritual.

What is done: More than hundred babies each year in the month of December are tossed from the top of a temple roof to a group of men standing below with a cloth meant to catch the babies.

Where is it practised: Among the Hindu communities in South India, specifically in the state of Karnataka.

Why is it done: It is believed that this ritual brings in good luck for the community. Married couples who wish to have more children engage themselves in this ritual.


5) Finger amputation / Yubitsume

Just another insane cultural ritual banned but still practised

What is done: Portions of one's finger is chopped off

Where is it practised: Commonly practsed among the Dani tribe of Indonesia and in Japan by the Yakuza, a prominent Japanese criminal organisation.

Why is it done: It is a way of mourning for the deceased members of your family among the Dani tribe while among the Yakuzas it considered a form of penance for one's sins.


6) Firewalking

Firewalking is one of the most widely practised rituals across many countries till date.

What is done: The participant is made to walk barefoot on a bed of embers or stone that are set on fire and are at an extremely high temperature.

Where is it practised: A few Hindu communities residing in South Asia, orthodox communities in Greece and Bulgaria, Japanese Taoists and Buddhists, places in Bali, Spain and a few parts of Pakistan.

Why is it done: It is a ritual with religious significance said be a gesture of paying their respects to God, repelling evil influences and purifying one's soul. 


7) Human Sacrifice

Human sacrifice or ritual killing has been in practise since ages and sadly still exists in many parts of the world.

What is done: As the name suggests, people kill or murder one or more fellow human beings as an offering to God.

Where is it done: In parts of India and Africa

Why is it done: It is done to express their gratitude towards God, to please God is another reason the practitioners of this ritual give.


Josephine John writes on culture, entertainment and viral videos. She tweets at @JosephineJohn23