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World Celebrations: Fighting Cows, Pierced Cheeks

Christof Berger
Wikimedia Commons

Each week on World Music (Saturday nights from 8-10 on KSTX 89.1 FM), I take a look at celebrations happening around the world. This week, cows battle in Switzerland, and there’s a “vegetarian” festival in Thailand that’s not for the squeamish.

Are the cows taking on the bulls in The Battle of The Queens?

We are all acquainted with bull fighting, but what about fighting cows in docile Switzerland? Surely this must be inconceivable, but these are not your everyday navel-gazing, grass-munching cows--these gals are feisty! For centuries, farmers in the Swiss village of Aproz have brought their best fighting cows to lock horns with other Herens bovines. These animals love nothing better than a supremacy fight, but the fight is more like advanced shoving. The cows appear pretty fierce, pawing the ground, bellowing and generally throwing their weight around. However, these are valuable animals, so their prospective owners make sure that nothing too violent ensues. Spectators love watching the cows lock horns and push each other. The cow who decides it’s not really worth the effort and walks away, is the loser. By a process of elimination, an eventual Queen is crowned, and becomes a money maker for the farmer.

The Vegetarian Festival In Thailand Doesn’t Celebrate Vegetables.

This nine-day festival, known as Tesagan Gin Je in Thailand, is held in early October to ensure good mental and physical health. Presided over by Lord Shiva and directed at the Nine Emperor Gods, the festival is not for the squeamish. Body piercing plays a significant role. The piercings take place in the early morning and are performed by large metal poles, swords, and knives--anything which would have most of us fainting at first sight. Then there’s the flagellation with spiked metal balls and hatchets, anything that can be swung at the body to inflict ghastly wounds and draw blood. But if you can’t stand the sight of bleeding, how do you feel about burns? Walking over red hot coals is an evening event which commences around eight. There are plenty of street processions accompanied by lots of noise and an abundance of fireworks. The festival gets its name from the food served. Vegetarian dishes are made available along the streets and in restaurants. They are marked with yellow flags, as they are almost indistinguishable from meat dishes. The festival comes to an end when the lantern poles erected at the beginning are lowered at the shrines involved with the celebrations.

WARNING: Images in the below video may disturb some viewers.

Learn more about these and other celebrations happening around the world this week on World Music with Deirdre Saravia, Saturday nights at 8:00 on KSTX 89.1 FM.

Deirdre as born in Belfast, Northern Ireland, and her first paid work was at the age of 10 with the BBC as an actress on "Children's Hour." She continued to perform regularly on radio and stage for the next eight years, at which point she was informed by her parents that theater was not an option and she needed "real" work.