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Bull Jumping Ceremony

Bharat Patel | Ethiopia

A novice with the "Boko". Knots on the piece of grass represent the days left to his ceremony.

In the Hamar and Bana tribes of Omo Valley, when the elders of the village decide if a boy is ready to go into manhood, a special bull-jumping ceremony is arranged in which the boy has to jump over at least 10 bulls without falling off. He is given a special “boko”. The ceremony is his gateway to enter manhood and become a “Maza” who can then marry, possess land, and have cattle.

This Celebration is an opportunity for bringing together villages. It is also a time when all the women related to the boy get a chance to show their affection and devotion to him. They show this by inviting other “Mazas” to whip them. It is act to show affection and commitment of love for the boy. It is also an opportunity to attract potential husbands.

The ceremony is marked by much chanting, dancing and drinking alcohol.

Towards the end of the day selected bulls are rounded up and lined up. The boy is expected to run over their backs at least 4 times without falling off.


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