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Fighting For The Gods

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Sailko
/
Wikimedia Commons
Nada No Kenka Matsuri

Festivals associated with the gods are normally characterized by peace and reverence, but not at the Nada No Kenka Matsuri (Oct. 14-15) in Japan. Every year, men of all ages engage in a colossal pushing, shoving and general rowdiness at a procession involving large shrines mounted on platforms carried through the streets.

Essentially there are no rules governing this melee, except that men are differentiated by age and the colored headbands that they wear. Men over 35 wear white headbands, those 25-35 years of age wear yellow, and those under 25 have red bands and large bamboo poles--all the better to fight with. They bang up against each other and engage in quite violent maneuvers in an attempt to hoist a shrine on top of another. Apparently, whatever gods oversee this mosh pit of a festival are really pleased to witness manly men engage in masculine pursuits. At the end of the event, a large procession of sumptuously decorated floats wends its way around town into the night hours, when lit lanterns bestow tremendous beauty to the event.

Learn more about this 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.