Mess fests around the world

If you thought Holi, when people are doused in colours and water, is grubby, here are other celebrations around the world that see people getting dirty

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People often think that Holi is a fun but messy festival. However, there are other traditional celebrations that see people dousing each other with a variety of items. Here are the ones that are very popular.


Boryeong Mud Festival

For two weeks in July every year, the streets of Boryeong, South Korea, are flooded with millions of tourists wrestling, rolling, and swimming in gooey grey clay. Boryeong mud is said to have medicinal qualities that rejuvenate the skin, so don’t worry if someone splatters you with it on the face.


Battaglia delle Arance

According to legend, the lord of Ivrea tried to rape a young girl on the eve of her wedding. But the girl chopped off his head and the whole town celebrated. That took the form of the Battle of the Oranges, where locals tried to re-enact the wild riot against the 13th-century tyrant. However, instead of the traditional weapons, they decided to throw oranges at each other. The town divides itself into nine combat squads to engage in a war that lasts for three days. Around 5,00,000 oranges are used in an attempt to “kill” their neighbours. The battle is waged in the town square of the Italian town of Ivrea starting every first Sunday of March.


Feria de Cascamorras

In the town of Baza in Andalucia, Spain, thousands of locals douse themselves with black oil and paint before they attack the ‘Cascamorras’, who intends to steal the statue of the Virgin Mary. The whole town chases and wrestles with the offender pours paint on him and throws him in the air, preventing him, by all means, to get close to the statue. The slippery brawl has been happening every year on September 6, for the past 500 years.


La Batalla de Vino de Haro

A glass of wine every now and then is said to keep you healthy. In the town of La Rioja, people douse each other in it. Every year on June 29, the townspeople celebrate St Peter’s Feast Day by bathing in tens of thousands of litres of wine. The days starts with a procession early in the morning, followed by a mass on a chapel in the mountain. After the mass, everyone sprays, splashes, and showers each other with wine. The party goes on until 5 am the next day.


The Songkran Festival

At the hottest time of the year, the whole of Thailand erupts with the biggest water fight in the world — the Songkran Festival. In this three-day New Year celebration falling on April 13-15, everyone is armed with water guns and buckets, ready to splash at the next unsuspecting victim. Some even roam the streets on scooters and pick-up trucks drenching their prey with ice-cold water. If someone sprays at you, getting angry will not help at all. If you’re in the streets during Songkran, that’s enough to make you fair game.


La Merengada

The tradition of chucking meringues and cream first started as a children’s game. However, soon the adults joined in and this turned into a tradition. If you’re visiting this Spanish town in Lenten season, be warned: the fight doesn’t end till desserts that night.


La Tomatina

Arguably, the world’s biggest food fight, La Tomatina engages over 20,000 people each year in a riotous vegetable war in the small Spanish town of Bunol on the last Wednesday of August each year. Around 1,50,000 tomatoes are trucked in for ammunition in this hour-long fight that literally paints the town red.


Batalla De Ratas

As if this ‘dirty festival’ list couldn’t get any dirtier! In the small town of El Puig, Spain, locals throw dead rats at each other. Townsfolk first gather in the main square to bash cucañas, the local version of a piñata. Back in the days, the cucañas used to contain fruits, nuts, and other natural goodies, which were often attracted rats. On the day of the festival, the cucañas are cracked, raining rodents on the surprised crowds below. Nowadays, the cucañas are simply filled with frozen dead rats, which are then tossed around for fun. The authorities had banned the practice for the sake of health and animal rights issues, but the townsfolk refused to give in and fought to keep their centuries-old tradition, no matter how gross.

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