Religions do contribute in shaping the culture and tradition of a country. This makes it more interesting to explore that particular destination(s). Nearly 4,200 religions are practiced on earth. While we are acquainted with some of the common religions but there are weird and most obscure religions practiced in some parts of the world.
It is an interesting facet of travel to know about these rare religions of the world and its strange practices. These help in widening our vision serving the basic purpose of travel. You get to understand the value system followed by a community and population largely driven by religious practices. Let us have a glimpse of a few countries where rare religions continue to exist.
9 – Countries where rare religions of the world still exist:
1. Nigeria – Yoruba:
Known to be the largest Africa born religion of the world, Yoruba is one of the most obscure religions. It depicts an interesting philosophy of life. All human beings have a clear and apparent destiny in their lifetime known as Ayoanmo which is destined to unite with the divine creator Olodumare.
Life and death depict the physical and spiritual cycles where the spiritual entity after death proceeds towards uniting with Olodumare.
2. Japan – Pana Wave:
A religious faith that grew from a common phobia – phobia of electromagnetic waves. This movement was started by a Japanese woman Yuko Chino in the mid-1980s to raise awareness about the dangerous effects of EM waves. The movement is an offshoot of the Chino-Shoho group formed in 1977.
The movement to some extent drove in paranoia where the followers thought EM waves as a communists-hatched plot to kill the leader Chino. The followers dressed in white clothes put white masks and drove white vans to protect themselves from the harmful effects of EM waves.
3. China – Falun Gong:
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A new religious movement combining elements of Buddhism, Taoism, Confucianism and Chinese folklore, Falun Gong is founded in 1992 by Li Hongzhi. It aims mental and spiritual reawakening through meditation.
The followers take up special exercises to awaken the centers of spiritual energy and get rid of physical and mental ailments. The faith was strongly criticized by the Chinese government that took this religion as a threat.
You will likely find the name of this religion in history textbooks. It is one of the oldest religions of the world dating back to 1st millennium BCE which is based on the teachings of Zoroaster, the Iranian prophet. The religion is on its way to oblivion with only 150,000-210,000 followers concentrated in India and the US.
Zoroastrianism preaches the concept of only one God, Ahura Mazda in constant conflict with the external chaos headed by Angra Mainyu. Human beings need to fight this out through good thoughts, deeds and actions.
The religion founded in Persia by the prophet Bahaullah has its largest follower base in India (about 2.2 million) followed by Iran and the US. Being one of the rare religions of the world, it embraces all major religions of the world and preaches the spiritual unity of all human beings.
It views the religious sojourn of a human being through the unfolding of a series of divine messengers suiting best for the people at a particular time. It was identified as the second fastest growing religion in the world in 2007 as its popularity rose by 1.7%.
India is the birthplace of another rare religion of the world – Jainism originating before 10th century BCE. Approximately, 4 million Jains are still found in India. The religion maintains its unique traditions in preaching non-violence, truth, non-stealing, non-possession and celibacy.
In one of its strange religious practices related to non-violence, the religion goes to the extent of saving worms and insects and microorganisms. The followers maintain a strict vegetarian diet and walk barefoot to avoid killing of small living creatures.
5 Iraq – Mandaeism:
This secretive Gnostic Christian religion is practiced by 5000-7000 people in Iraq. The followers have the belief that Jesus misconstrued the teachings of John, the Baptist. For this reason, John has a special position in this religion along with Adam, Noah, Abel, Seth and other teachers but not Jesus.
Abraham, Moses and Muhammad are also not considered as prophets. Prior to the 2003 war, there were about 60-70 thousand followers practicing one of the rare religions of the world.
6. Vanuatu – The Prince Philip movement:
One of the most unorthodox faiths to go mainstream fast where The Duke of Edinburgh is worshipped as a deity. This initiated during the official visit of the royal couple in 1974. The local Yaohnanen tribe grew an inexplicable belief taking Duke as the descendant of one of their ancestors presently residing in England taking care of their culture.
The faith has led to some strange religious practices where the tribal people send letters to the Duke, worship his photo and celebrate his birthday as an annual religious festival.
7. Korea – Cheondoism:
This 20th-century Korean religion has its origin in the peasant rebellion in 1812. It has its roots in Korean Buddhism and shamanism drawing few elements from Christianity. The religion gained tremendous popularity in Communist North Korea and is the leading religion of the country.
The religion preaches the belief of the existence of God in each and every human being. Therefore, it is our duty to turn earth into a paradise.
8. Argentina – Iglesia Maradoniana:
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Last but not the least you find one of the rare religions of the world in Argentina worshipping Maradona as a divine being. Also known as the Maradonian Church, it was set up by the fans of the soccer legend Diego Maradona on 3rd October in Rosario.
The church bears a unique symbol D10S combining the word Dios, the Spanish God and 10, the jersey number of this football legend. The church follows its own commandment and prayers and claims to have 100,000 members from 60 plus countries.
9. Central and Southern Africa – Mami Wata:
This water-borne female spirit worshipped in Central and South African countries is known to be incredibly beautiful with long hair accompanied by a snake. The belief runs that this female spirit sometimes takes the form of a human being in bars and crowded markets and often abducts people while swimming or boating.
They are released in a better shape only after pledging sexual fidelity to the spirit. This rare religion of the world also exists in the African diaspora in North and South Americas and Caribbean Islands.