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Land Diving Festival

Listed under Festivals in Vanuatu.

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Proving that extreme sports aren’t an entirely new phenomenon, this festival celebrates the ancient ritual of Naghol or ‘Land Diving’, which involves men securing vines to their feet and jumping from tall towers. This not only proves they’re worthy of entering manhood but is also understood to ensure a good yam harvest. The festival takes place between April and June in the wet season (a dry season performance in front of Queen Elizabeth famously took a turn for the worst in 1974.), mostly because the vines are more elastic in the wet. The youngest jumpers launch themselves from only two storeys up but the most experienced jumpers dive from about 50 metres.

Part of the tradition requires that the most successful jumps are those where the men actually hit their heads on the ground, if they miss the ground completely the yams don’t benefit, so they’re relying on the vine cutters to get it spot on. Before the jump it’s socially acceptable for the jumpers to walk around saying what ever they want, just in case – afterwards, if the jump is successful, they can always claim they have no recollection of saying anything – a bump on the head does that in any culture. So as well as bungee jumping these islanders also had irony.

Written by  World Reviewer Staff.

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