Thursday, February 26, 2009

The "God of Poverty"

In terms of questionable religious practices, nominally Buddhist Japan may now lead the pack. There is a new God of Poverty, which can be struck, kicked, and blamed for financial misfortune -- for a price. The God is willing to shoulder the blame for the current global crisis as well as individual hardships.
This practice echoes the Islamic practice of hurtling stones at the devil (tossing pebbles at a wall called Jamarat during the Hajj, or annual pilgrimage to Mecca).
The custom of self-mortification is not limited to the sages and seers of the East. It is still rampant in some parts of Christendom. Most notable is the annual custom of self-flagellation and voluntary crucifixion in the Philippines.

Finally, no culture can rival India for majestic splendor and strange customs. The country hosts the largest human gathering for a single purpose (with hundred of millions attending Kumbh Mela held every dozen years). Its practices are colorful, with periodic lesser Melas every three years, and national holidays like Holi.


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