The world is full of all sorts of odd things — and religion is often source for some of the most weird and wonderful.
Perhaps the pinnacle of peculiarity can be observed in the Philippines every Good Friday in form of the Cutud Lenten Rites.
This celebration of self-abuse — a marvel of masochism — takes place in the town of San Fernando, Pampanga.
People flock from all over the world to witness the real-life crucifixion of volunteers who for some reason or other feel compelled to be nailed to a cross.
However, this isn’t done until the volunteers have walked to their crosses while flaying their backs with sharp bamboo shards.
Does the Catholic church really approve of this? Well, no, but that doesn’t stop the ‘devout’ going through with the ordeal.
Once the volunteers are led to the crosses there is a mock Roman cavalry regiment on hand all dressed up and ready to inflict the punishment.
Dressed in red robes with fake spears they tie the ‘repentant sinners’ to their crosses and then hammer real nails through the palm of each hand.
These brave souls are then left on their crosses until they feel they are fully ridden of their sins (usually about five to 10 minutes. Perhaps 15 if they’ve been really naughty).
Similar traditions can be witnessed throughout the Pampanga region, however the full-on crucifixion show can only be seen in San Fernando.
Although the Philippines has been Catholic for hundreds of years, since Spanish colonisation, this festival has only been around since the 1960s.
Despite widespread criticism of what is often called a “barbaric practice” it seems firmly entrenched — even those who claim to despise it still find it a weirdly compelling spectacle.
Grown men (and sometimes women) being strung up in the scorching sun, while they bleed in intense agony, what’s not to love?
Spectators both local and foreign come from all over to watch this intriguing tradition with tours being run to help foreigners get into the area.
For those wishing to get rid of your sins, we would normally recommend a lemon detox, however, there’s no point in discouraging others that are keen on competing, after all, tradition is tradition.
If you wish to visit the Cutud Lenten Rites festival then contact our friends at Young Pioneer Tours, who organise trips to see the gory madness.
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