5. Bride Kidnappings
Practiced in: The Roma communities (all over the world)
Most unions can trace their beginnings to that one special night at a frat kegger when the couple first met their gaze in a crowded room and forever cemented their fate by a quicky in the backseat and a broken condom. Some cultures however decided to skip all this romantic crap and go from the “total strangers” phase straight to marriage in one messed-up leap of criminal activity: kidnapping the bride.
The Romani, also known as Gypsies, for centuries have had this tradition, that if you manage to forcefully kidnap a girl and keep her by your side for 2-3 days, she officially becomes your wife. Long ago this probably made a lot sense, as it helped you avoid buying the bride off the parents or having Thanksgiving dinner with them every year. But even in this day and age it’s not viewed as anything strange in the Roma culture, and many women simply go with the fact that the overweight guy, who cornered them with a bottle of chloroform at a McDonald’s lady’s bathroom, is now the love of their life.
Some of you are probably wondering, how in the f**k is this legal? Well, it’s a cultural practice of a large ethnic minority and most governments would rather start flossing with razor wire than to commit the PR equivalent of suicide by banning a minority tradition.
4. Marrying animals to exorcise ghosts
Practiced in: some regions of India
The Western culture is no stranger to superstition, especially during a wedding. Most brides would sooner set fire to the church and postpone the ceremony than to get married without something old, new, borrowed and blue. And don’t even think about trying to catch a glimpse of your wife-to-be before the nuptials or that’s 3 stitches to the temple right there on the spot.
But the Santhal tribe in India decided to one-up us all and cranked the wedding-crazy dial all the way up to 11. They believe that if a baby girl has a tooth rooted to her upper gum, it’s the obvious sign she will be eaten by a tiger or something in the near future, because ghosts hate her. Therefore, she must marry a dog. Such was the story of Karnamoni Handsa, a 9-year-old Indian girl who “married” the local stray Bacchan amidst the dancing and cheers of her 100 guests getting shitfaced on home-made booze. Huh… Somehow the presence of moonshine in a cross-species wedding is not surprising in the least…
The good news is, this is nothing but a mock ceremony and the couple don’t have to consummate the wedding. It’s just to ward off the evil spirits so the girl can marry a real boy some time later. Thank God, otherwise this exorcism ritual between a child and a canine would have been really weird.
3. Blackening of the bride
Practiced in: Scotland
In many ways the Scottish people are just like your typical Europeans but with a few notable quirks: they eat sheep entrails, wear male-skirts and instead of rice, they throw stinking crud like eggs and sauces on their brides.
This custom is called the “blackening of the bride”, a very old Scottish tradition; some say even older than Sean Connery himself. It’s part of a hazing ritual that actually happens before the wedding. The bride is taken by surprise, by hands down the crummiest friends you could have, and covered from head to toe with all kinds of crap. It can be anything: spoiled milk from the back of your fridge right down to tar and feathers. It serves 2 possible purposes. Either it gets the men in the proper mood, (assuming all Scots have a fetish of homeless chicks who never bathe), or it helps the women deal with the prospect of marriage, because nothing that will happen to them from that point on will be as cruel or humiliating as the blackening.
It’s sort of like punching your bride right before saying “I do”. No amount of douchebaggery you pull off later in life will ever amount to that, so your lady will at least not be disappointed or, at best, pleasantly surprised. Man, the Scots have this marriage thing figured out.
2. Fat Farms
Practiced in: Mauritania (Africa)
There are different standards of beauty in every part of the world. For example, despite the majority of Western brides stopping short of having their kidneys removed to lose weight before the big day, some cultures actually find huskier women more attractive…. and are prepared to go to disturbing lengths to put more junk in their women’s trunks. Enter the Mauritanian Fat Farms.
Fat Farms are sort of the opposite of Fat Camps – a place where brides as young as five are sent to gain weight under the watchful eyes of wrinkled old crones, in order to become more attractive and get married as soon as possible. In the practice known as Leblouh, the girls are force fed a truckload of food—which might include more than 4 pounds of millet and 5 gallons of camel milk a day—and if they vomit, the supervising hags force them to eat it up. Failure to comply is reportedly often met with torture. So OK, maybe those places are not that different from Fat Camps.
The sad part is, this practice has virtually disappeared until a couple of years ago when a military junta took over the country and reinstated it, probably hoping that fatter women will be easier to catch or something. Not like anyone would sleep with them otherwise, being a bunch of civilian-terrorizing assholes with grenade launchers.
1. No shitting
Practiced in: parts of Malaysia
There is nothing more beautiful than a wedding. It is after all the couple’s first day as two happily married people, surrounded by friends, flowers and fancy foods. But for the tribes of the Tidong community in northern Borneo, a wedding is the first day of a grueling journey to the deepest levels of Hell and back. It’s the day when the couple must stop pooping for 72 hours.
The Tidong tradition dictates that a newly married couple be confined to their house and not empty their bowels or urinate under any possible circumstances for the entirety of 3 nights and 3 days. That’s why they are often carefully watched over by family members and given very little food or water. The Tidong people believe that if the couple makes it, they will lead a happy and long life with lots of non-dead children, so the stakes are pretty high here.
When you think about it, there is a spark of genius in this practice. Nothing binds 2 people for life like going through difficult times together, and there is nothing more difficult than being denied to go to the bathroom for nearly half a week. When the 3 days are up, these people will be closer to each other than ever before, because they will no longer be just husband and wife… They will be poop buddies.