The Bodi tribe’s idea of beauty may differ from what we’re used to, but it’s a perfect example of the incredible cultural diversity that can be found around the world.
These extraordinary folks dwell in southwest Ethiopia’s Omo Valley. As an agricultural tribe, the Bodi make a living by herding animals and producing various plants along the Omo River’s banks.
The annual celebration of the Bodi lunar new year, the Ka’el ceremony, is what they are best known for. It occurs in June, four days after the first moon of the month. The new year’s ceremony also serves as a competition for single males, who must gain a little weight in order to be named champions.
Each family or clan may enter a participant they believe is suitable for the competition. Competing for glory in the Bodi tribe, on the other hand, is a major struggle. Competitors must train for 6 months to become the fattest guy. They can’t be seen outside their huts during this time, and they have to drink an incredible amount of cow blood and milk mixture.
Cows are not slaughtered since they are regarded sacred animals by the Bodi. They simply draw blood by creating a small hole in a vein, which they then seal with clay.
The men fatten up as much as they can in 6 months due to their seclusion, lack of exercise, and the mixing of blood and milk. They drink the first two liters at sunrise and continue to drink throughout the day. Furthermore, due of the high heat, contestants must drink the concoction before it coagulates. But it’s not simple to devour massive bowls of blood and milk: many of the men puke because they can’t drink it fast enough.
When the time comes for the ceremony, the men emerge from their huts, covered in clay and ash. For the Ka’el ceremony, they wear headdresses made of shells and plumes, as well as beaded necklaces and bracelets.
“The ritual is always held in four separate Bodi communities.” To commemorate the Ka’el event, each hamlet has its own tribal chief. “The first ceremony is held in Hanna village, the next two in Gura village, and the last one in Kulo village,” Fitretu Getachew, a local guide and photographer, told Earthly Mission.
When the candidates are ready, they begin their journey to a sacred tree, where the Ka’el will take place. While the six-month preparation period for the tournament is difficult, some Bodi men find the walk and ceremony itself more difficult. Fortunately, the women are present to provide the overweight participants with water and wine.
The big men begin to run in a circle around the sacred tree as part of the rite, while their judges look on. Because the overweight guys are jogging in the hot heat for hours, they require several rests during the event.
“The ritual is also accompanied by warm music and dancing,” Fitretu explained.
The Bodi women, who are present not just to assist the men during the difficult parts of the process, but also to show off in their best attire and check the potential husband materials.
After hours of running and dancing, the contenders’ bodies are measured by the old judges, who finally decide the winner. The Bodi man who is picked as the winner of the Ka’el ritual receives enormous fame and is hailed as a hero. It’s no surprise that becoming ‘Fat Man of the Year’ is every Bodi child’s ambition.
The sacrifice of one of their sacred cows concludes the Ka’el rite. The elders of the respective community then utilize the intestines to forecast whether the future would be good or harmful.
When the participants’ lives return to normal and they begin eating items other than blood and milk, the majority of them lose their bellies in a matter of weeks. However, participants in next year’s Ka’el ceremony will soon begin their preparations to become the tribe’s future hero.
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We should try that holiday here. It would be BIGGER than the Superbowl.
Tony L says
We should try that here in the USofA.
Can Americans enter the contest? :p