Celebrations and festivals are an integral part of our society. And I think, we should not let go of any opportunity to celebrate with our close ones. Since the dawn of agriculture, every harvest brings joy to the farmers. Each country has their versions of harvest festivals. There is usually a big feast where everyone sings and dance. But do you know about a festival which involves an adventure sport?
Vanuatu is an island country located in the southern Pacific Ocean. It is one of the most culturally diverse nations with rich cultural history and lasting traditions. There are many festivals which are held throughout the year with Naghol (or Yam Festival) being the craziest one.
Naghol is a festival celebrated on Pentecost Island. When the yam crop begins to emerge in early April, locals build wooden towers between 20-30m high. Once completed, the entire village gathers under the tower. They sing, dance and stomp loudly on the ground to bless the village with generous harvests. The air is filled with chants, whistles and the sound of stomping of feet.
When you look up, there is a man standing on the top of the tower. His ankles are tied to vines. And without any safety measures, he jumps to the ground. As the diver falls he curls his head under his chin and let his shoulders touch the ground as a blessing to make the ground fertile for the next year’s yam crop. The vine springs him back into the air before the impact kills them.
Yes, it is bungee jumping. But a lot scarier and dangerous than the one we know about. A lot of us give credit to New Zealand for introducing us to bungee jumping. But not many people know that this adventurous sport was invented in Vanuatu. AJ Hackett saw this festival and was greatly inspired by the idea. Thus the first commercial bungee jumping began in 1986 in Auckland.
There is also an interesting story on how this festival started. There was a local woman who cheated on her husband. When the husband got to know about it, he chased her up a coconut palm tree. At the top, she jumped off, and he followed. The wife tied vines to her legs and survived, while the husband did not and died. I don’t know what happened to the woman but her wit and spontaneity invented a sport for us.
Naghol Land Diving is not just a deadly sport, but it is a rite of passage ceremony of the village men. There is also a common belief “The better the jump, the better the yams.” Too much pressure this is!
The festival attracts a lot of tourists everywhere who come here to witness this crazy yet unique experience. No tourist can take part in the diving though as these stunts are performed only by the locals. Are you intrigued?
Click here to know about some of the most dangerous festivals from around the world!