Saturday, 21 October, 2017
Update
   Govt hikes salary of GMC lecturers from 55k - 95k & Assistant Lecturers from 45k to 80k per month   CM Parrikar asks RTO clarification on dumping important documents on roadside, to file case for dumping garbage on highway   RTO'S MAKESHIFT OFFICE ALONG THE OLD GOA BY-PASS ROAD   Sign lease pacts with CCP at the earliest: Mayor to market tenants   ST strike: KTC suspends bus trips to Maharshtra   Goan disability activist wins national award   First pvt ferry services to begin from Nov   Late rains, chocked drains spell doom for farmers in Aldona

Bare cheek as Japan men strip off for naked festival

With only a skimpy loincloth to protect their modesty, thousands of men brave freezing temperatures to fight for lucky charms thrown by a priest at Japan’s annual Naked Man Festival. A writhing mass of sweaty worshippers wrestled for elbow-room inside Saidaiji Temple in Okayama, western Japan, in the hope of catching the sacred batons.

Story: Quentin TYBERGH | EN /AFP | 01st March 2017, 06:18 Hrs

Around 10,000 hardy souls celebrating the religious festival stepped under ice-cold fountains to purify their bodies before risking life and limb in a mysterious ceremony dating back some 500 years. “It can get very rough,” 62-year-old auto mechanic Kazuhiko Nishigami said, bare-chested and ready to rumble. “You have to write down your blood type on a form and tuck it into your loincloth in case you get seriously hurt.”
Most who took on the ‘Hadaka Matsuri,’ or Naked Festival, suffered no more than a few bumps and bruises after scrapping over a pair of wooden sticks, measuring one and a half inches in diameter and eight inches in length, believed to bring good fortune to whoever catches them. But revellers have been crushed to death in the past in a melee that makes Tokyo’s infamous rush-hour trains look like a walk in the park. And it’s easy to see how fatalities could occur when the lights suddenly go off and priests cast the mystical charms from the temple’s rafters into the heaving crowd below. As holy water was splashed from above, camera flashes illuminated the sea of bodies like disco lights at a rave -- before all hell broke loose.
In a scene reminiscent of Dante’s “Inferno”, steam rises as thousands of groaning men, faces contorted with pain, thrust their arms upwards from the suffocating pit below, as if begging for forgiveness -- or if not a pair of trousers and a shirt to keep warm. Those who snaffle one of the holy talismans tossed from above have to fight tooth and nail to keep hold of it as they come under attack by rivals desperate for the juju it bestows. Fuelled by beer and sake, many festival-goers came to blows. “I was lucky to escape,” said firefighter Kosuke Yasuhara, clutching one of the talismans. “It dropped right in the middle of our group,” added the 38-year-old. “I had to quickly slip it into my loincloth to hide it and then force my way out.”
High priest Zenko Tsuboi insisted the festival was not an orgy of violence, even if wailing ambulance sirens have provided an unwanted soundtrack in previous years. “Those who catch the charms will prosper and receive a bumper harvest,” he said. “We want to remind people this is a religious festival so we have become much stricter these days about alcohol and rough behaviour.” As revellers and the hundreds of police and firemen on call made their way back through the rice fields to the city, father-to-be Yasuhara broke into a wide grin. “This charm is a gift from the gods,” he said. “I believe it will deliver us a bouncing baby when it’s born in April.”

Related news

The call of the mountains

Climbing to the Everest Base Camp, Kalapathar, at the elevation of 18,514 ft. with oxygen level dropping down to 50 per cent, is indeed, a breath-taking voyage towards no man’s sky and tranquillity, admits Durgadas Parab and his team at Goa Eco Treks Read more

Thoughts to images with each brush stroke!

The students of Santo Minguel High School, Taleigao gave their school a colourful makeover recently under the guidance of art educator, street and mural artist Ruchin Soni Read more

join The FC Goa family!

With the new season just over a month away, FC Goa has launched its official membership programme for fans. The membership programme called ‘Gaur Nation' offers members a fantastic choice of offerings available with different tiers of membership to suit every need. Read more

Top News

Bastora underpass to miss yet another deadline

The overbridge along NH17 cum underpass at Bastora was expected to be thrown open by Dec-end; New deadline set for March 2018 Read more

Govt unveils one-time benefit scheme for freedom fighters

Applicants to be settled after written undertaking n Freedom fighters once settled will not be eligible for pension Read more