If I were asked under what sky the human mind has most fully developed some of its choicest gifts, has most deeply pondered on the greatest problems of life, and has found solutions, I should point to India” – Max Mueller
India has been praised by some of the great people who have lived on the Earth. The evidence of Indian civilization can be traced back to thousands of years. No other place can vouch for the sort of diversity, which fills every nook and cranny of this incredible country. The various religions, languages, dialects, traditions and customs provide many facets of the majestic country called India. The geographic land of India has several marks of faith spread all across its length and breadth. Certain structures have several centuries of devotion backing them, granting more authenticity and reverence.
India is the land of 64 crore god and goddesses, with a multitude of holy cities and shrines of spiritual gurus to a motorcycle. Here, temples can be found at every step of the way, but only some of them are odd, strange, weird or unusual in one way or another. Some of these weird temples in India are famed because of their unconventional deities, some because of their exorcism rites, and some because they are more than 2000 years old.
1. Mahendipur Balaji Temple, Rajasthan: Exorcise your Demons
In the sleepy little Dausa district of Rajasthan, thousands of devotees turn up at Mahendipur Balaji Temple to rid themselves of ghosts, demons and other evil spirits every day. Offering penance in extreme ways, pouring boiling water on oneself, hanging from the ceiling, chaining themselves to walls, and banging their heads against the walls is said to rid a person of all things evil. This temple is also famed for being probably the only place in India where exorcisms by priests are still carried out.
No Prasad is offered at this temple, and it is said that once you leave the temple, you must not turn back to look at it; who knows, evil spirits might take that as an invitation to inhabit your body.
2. Kamakhya Devi Temple, Assam: The Menstruating Goddess
Perched atop the Nilachal Hill in Guwahati, Assam resides the Maa Kamakhya Devi Temple, one of the most famous temples in India. It is one of the oldest of the 51 Shakti Peethas in the Indian subcontinent. The temple does not have a sculpture to worship, however, what it does have is the yoni or vagina of Devi Sati, the wife of Lord Shiva, covered with a red silk sari.
Every year during monsoon, the goddess menstruates, and the temple is closed down for three days. It is also when the Tantric fertility festival or Ambubachi Mela is celebrated here, till the fourth day when the temple reopens. It is also said that the underground spring that flows in the sanctum of the temple turns red on these three days. Devotees are offered a piece of the red cloth used to cover the stone yoni during the days of menstruation as ‘prasad’.
3. Devji Maharaj Mandir, Madhya Pradesh: Venue for the annual “Bhoot Mela”
During the full moon every month, the Devji Maharaj Mandir in Madhya Pradesh, is the place where devotees come to rid themselves of ghosts, demons, and evil spirits. As penance, a common practice is lighting camphor tablets on bare palms to scare whatever evil spirit resides within to leave the body. Running around or being smacked by a broom are other options.
But the weirdest tradition is the annual “ bhoot mela” or ghost fair that is held in the temple grounds, to appease evil spirits. One of the unsolvable mysteries of India for sure; warrants a visit?
4. Kodungallur Bhagavathy Temple, Kerala: Abusing the goddess during a festival
The earthly abode of Goddess Bhadrakali, a gentler reincarnation of Goddess Kali, the Kodungallur Bhagavathy Temple witnesses a bizarre seven-day festival celebrated annually, the Bharani Festival. Men and women wearing red apparel and carrying swords swarm this Indian temple, running around in a trance-like state. They hit their heads with the sword, blood pours freely, and they enter the temple hurling choice abuses and singing lewd songs about the Devi.
Offerings are not made in the general fashion, instead, they are thrown at the statue of the goddess, and the temple rafters are hit repeatedly with sticks. The temple is shut down for 7 days after the festival, admittedly to clean the blood stains.
5. Stambheshwar Mahadev, Gujarat
Would you visit a temple that appears and disappears throughout the day? Located close to Vadodara in Gujarat, the Stambheshwar Mahadev temple shares shores with the Arabian Sea. Lord Shiva resides here, and blesses those who dare to venture into it. It is one of the most famous temples in India.
The only weird thing about this temple is that it can be visited only during hours of low tides. In hours of high tides, the temple is swallowed up completely by the sea, and it reappears hours later when the water descends.