where : Pentecost Island in Vanuatu
attraction : young men jumped off of some 30 meters height tower of
feebly wooden structure, as an initiation to adulthood.
So, I just saw this documentary on tv tonight, and it's so interesting I have to write and share this, to everyone of you out there. :P
So the image above must be already quite familiar (taken from http://www.pentecostisland.net/ and http://www.vanuatuatoz.com/). Well, it's a scene of a male adulthood initiation ceremony in Vanuatu, called Land Dive or Naghol, or N'Gol.
This feebly-looking tower has several different level of heights, starting at the lowest which is 20 feet (6 meters!!) to the highest of 30 meters, to initiate young men of different ages. Those who leap from this lowest point is mostly young boys in the age of 7 or 8. So each year these boys will continue leaping until he reaches the top level (30 meters), and thus considered as a respectable adult. Or die trying. Ha! :D
These brave divers jumped with nothing but 2 strings of lianas (wood vines) fastened on both of their ankles. And the kind of jump that was considered perfect is that the diver's hair or shoulder should touches the ground. Therefore the Dive Committee (or something like that) already ploughed the soil to "softened" it, to make sure of a "comfortable" landing. Very convenient, yes?
Anyway, the most interesting part about Land Diving, is of course, the history of it. Land Diving is a ritual that already went on since centuries ago, and surely for more to come. But did you know what started this ritual in the first place?
Well, apparently it's a woman! :D The first and the last female land diver.
So there's this tale about a woman who ran away from her husband, because he beats her. She ran and hid up on a tree, where her husband found her. Her husband (called Tamale), told her to come down, but she refused. Then Tamale climbed the tree and try to grab his wife, when his wife suddenly leap towards the ground. The angry Tamale jumped after his wife (what was he thinking?!) not realizing that his (smart) wife already tied liana vines to her ankles, thus she managed to land safely on the ground.
But Tamale did not.
So this Naghol/ N'Gol festival is celebrated with men diving from a tree top tower in a display of their strength, and to show the world that they would never ever be tricked by women again, as Tamale had been.
I found this highly amusing. LOL. But I wouldn't indulge myself on explanations.
Of course there's another version of the festival's history which is to celebrate the annual yam harvest. And the daredevil's act of touching the ploughed soil with his hair/ shoulder would ensure another harvesting success for the next year.
But so boring, right? :D