Breast-touching Festival

I just read about the breast-touching festival and I really find it so laughable that in our modern world, such superstitions still exist.

The Chinese have entered the seventh month of the Lunar calendar, known as the Hungry Ghost month, which began July 31 this year. It is believed the gates of hell are open throughout the Hungry Ghost Month but they are most open on this night. It is believed many hungry and wayward ghosts come to visit the living. Originally the Hungry Ghost Festival was a day to honour ancestors, but once Buddhism was introduced in China, the holiday was called Yu Lan Pen Festival, a Chinese transliteration of the Sanskrit term Ullambana (उल्लम्बन), which means liberating those who are hung upside-down.

While the Buddhists and Taoists prepare offerings for the homeless ghosts, a minority tribe in China have their own interesting celebration. This eventually turned into a festival called Monai Jie (Breast-Touching Festival), where the men of the town are allowed to touch the breasts of single women! The Yi people in Ejia town of Yunnan province, those who are still single, will head to the streets for Breast-Touching Festival on the 14th, 15th and 16th days of the month. On these days, the men are welcome to touch the women’s breasts. This festival has been around for 1500 years!

china_breasts_art_ZP67Il0xWYjiThe festival began because of a local legend during the Sui Dynasty (581-619 CE) when most of the male teenagers of the town were forced into the army and died in wars. The people then carried out prayers to commemorate the dead, and it happened that the ceremony was held in the seventh month. According to the Taoist wizards, the dead could not rest because they had not touched a woman before dying. What’s more, they wanted 10 “pure and untouched” women to accompany them into the afterworld. To prevent them from being chosen, single women — aged 15 and above — then asked the men of their village to touch their breasts, and the custom has been passed down for generations.

During the festival, men enjoy touching breasts, and women gladly accept their touch as the gesture — called “touching milk” — is considered good luck for both. How weird!

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