It is estimated that there are a little over 4,000 religions in the world. Every single one of these religions has a number of beliefs and practices that may appear strange to those who do not subscribe to the religion. While we should respect other people’s beliefs, some of these beliefs are as bizarre as they are interesting. Here are 4 of the most interesting religious beliefs from some of the major religions in the world.
The Temple of Rats
The Karni Mata temple, located in north-western India, is home to over 20,000 rats. These rats are allowed to roam the temple complex since they are believed to be re-incarnations of certain people who died many years ago. One of the reasons why the rats are allowed to live in and roam the complex is because those who profess the religion believe that the dead people will be reborn in higher forms of life. Apart from making sure that the rodents are well-fed, members of this religion require all visitors to remove their shoes when they enter the shrine and allow the rats to run across their feet.
The Black Stone of Mecca
Although many people know about the Mecca pilgrimage, not much is known about the associated beliefs. The Black Stone of Mecca is an oval-shaped stone that Muslims believe fell directly from heaven. It is believed that this stone fell when Adam and Eve left the Garden of Eden and was supposed to show them where they were to build an altar. According to Islamic beliefs, this stone can absorb a person’s sins, effectively cleaning the individual of the sins. In fact, legend has it that the stone was originally white in color but has turned black over the years as it absorbed sins.
These strange, half-alive creatures are one of the most notable aspects of Buddhism. According to their religious beliefs, Buddhists hold that the hungry ghosts have bloated stomachs and are always tormented by great hunger. However, the ghosts cannot eat anything since they have small mouths and thin necks. Members of this religion believe that any man who is greedy during their lifetime will be born as a Hungry Ghost in their next incarnation. If one is obsessed with money, power, expensive material stuff or lust for sexual desires, this will be the punishment for their greed.
Christian Snake Handlers
Some churches in America have a ritual known as snake handling. Under the ritual, worshippers are required to lift poisonous snakes into the air. In some cases, the congregations will allow the snakes to crawl over their bodies. It is believed that the snakes are demons in bodily forms. As such, handling the poisonous serpents is a clear indication that God protects His people. While the ritual is known to be voluntary, it does not negate the fact this is an interesting belief.
This list is by no means exhaustive. There is any number of interesting beliefs and practices associated with different religions across the world. Some of these beliefs are as old as the religions themselves and arguing with them which one is true is like asking is basalt a sedimentary rock.