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Tag Archives: festival

Photo credit AFP

Believed to have lived for 300 years, the birthday of the Hindu Guru Jai Shri Bawa Lal Dayal Ji Maharaj is celebrated across India during the Magh Month (usually between January and February). The young men in the photograph above are taking part in a fire breathing ritual in Amritsar. 2007 marked the 652nd anniversary of the guru’s birthday.

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Saint Nicholas and the Buttnmandl and Krampus

The traditions related to St. Nicholas originated in France during the middle ages before spreading throughout Europe. Since then in Bavaria the running of the Buttnmandl and Krampus from door to door in the Berchtesgadener Land has been closely associated with ‘St. Nick’s’ visit – in fact, in the Berchtesgaden area you’ll never see one without the other.

Buttenmandl and Krampusse are costumes worn by young single men and consist of animal skins and fur masks with long red tongues adding to their frightening appearance. Attached to their backs are large cow-bells weighing up to 45 pounds used to make loud and frightening noises. They follow Saint Nicholas from house to house on December 5 and 6 each year to bring luck to the good and punish the idle. As they accompany Saint Nicholas, they will flick switches at the legs of young girls in a sign of fertility. Their mission is also to chase away evil spirits at the dark time of year (near the winter solstice) and to awaken Mother Nature slumbering deep under the hard frozen ground.