The tribesmen of Pentecost Island, located in the south Pacific, are renowned for their death defying rite of passage called land diving. It works like this:
The men in each village construct elaborate wooden platforms on steep hillsides. These platforms can take up to seven weeks to build. Then during the early summer in a ceremony that’s considered a rite of passage for young men, and is also believed to bring a good harvest, they climb to the top of the tower and jump.
The men jump from self made wooden platforms 90 feet in the air with only vines attached to their ankles for safety.
Each man builds their own platform and selects their own vine. This is so no one can be blamed if they are injured during the jump.
Praying for a safe jump.
The vines must be long enough so that just the hair of the man jumping touches the ground. This ensures a bountiful yam crop.
They freefall at almost 40 mph before the vines bring them safely to the ground.
In 1974, Queen Elizabeth II of Great Britain visited and observed the land dive. Sadly one jumper died during her visit.
Until 2006 this 1974 incident was the only land diving fatality in memory.
The ceremony starts with the least experienced divers jumping from the lower platforms and ends with the most experienced jumpers on the higher platforms.
Beginning around age 7 or 8 boys are allowed to participate in the land diving ceremony.
It’s said that land diving is the spiritual predecessor to bungee jumping.
Tourists can now pay to watch the land diving ceremony every week on the island between April and June.
That is one heck of a way to become a man. I’m kind of glad I didn’t have to do that. Share this story by clicking below.
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