Why You Might Let Someone Crack a Coconut on your Head

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It's amazing to me how many different types of Hindu ceremonies there are, and how many I'm not familiar with. This National Geographic video showcases an annual ceremony in Tamil Nadu, in Southern India, where priests break one coconut after another on people's heads as a way of thanking the goddess of wealth, Laxmi. Devotees-- who are required to be 18 years or older-- offer their skulls as a coconut cracker as thanks for having their prayers answered.

According to National Geographic, the ceremony has a bit of post-colonial lore behind it as well. As one local told reporters: "When the British were trying to draw a railway line against the wishes of the villagers here, they found big stones just like coconuts, beneath the ground. They sarcastically told villagers that if they could break these stones with their heads, they would change the course of the railway line. The villagers broke the stones and the line was shifted." Some of the locals say since then the ritual has been performed at the temple using coconuts, and that these rituals draw thousands.

Be sure to click here to watch the full video. The vigor and speed with which the priest performs the ceremony is stunning (and a little frightening, even for someone who was dropped on their head as a kid!).

March 14, 2012 - 6:23am
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