Rituals, be it religious or cultural, are often seem strange to outsiders. The story of a bizzare ritual that starts at night in the middle of the sea will leave you with bated breath.
But Equator crossing ceremony is fun. An age-old tradition that is carried out with such gusto at shore.
Equator crossing or the line crossing ceremony is a centuries-old ritual to inaugurate seafarers who have never crossed the Equator, the imaginary line on the Earth’s surface. Began with the Navy over 400 years ago, the tradition is aimed to let Equator-crossing virgins to prove they are worthy to make the transition.
Watch: Equator Baptism at M/V World Sapphire Atlantic Ocean
Though ceremonies differ from regions to region, the common cast of characters involved in the ritual include the prominent King Neptune and his representative Davy Jones, among others.
The seamen who have already crossed the line are known as Shellbacks, while those who have not traversed the nautical line are nicknamed as Tadpoles or Pollywogs. At the time of this ritual, the Pollywogs are put through some physical tests to be initiated into the “ancient mysteries of the deep.”
“It is a memory that is etched into each and every seafarer, for it is an event that ushers in a sense of belonging to one’s profession,” ShilavadraBhattacharjeewrote earlier.(https://www.marineinsight.com/life-at-sea/equator-crossing-ceremony/)
He said that the excitement and enthusiasm that prevails among fellow shipmates at the time of conducting the line-crossing ceremony is one that beams of a happy past experience of the same and that of passing on the baton of the art of sailing to newbies.
During the ceremony, mostly, the Pollywogs will dipped in water for the initiation and passing into the realm of the seas when it begins, followed by the braking of raw eggs on their heads and serving of beer, chilly sauce and raw eggs. Later the heads of first timers will be shaved in the most uneven manner possible and paint will be applied at random all over the body.
The “Equator Crossing Certificate” will be handed over to the first timers after layers of rituals, including the march of sailors who are tied together towards the anchor, where they will be made to crack open a can of beer on the anchor itself at the first go.
“For the coming days, it is very easy to spot the sailors that have recently been through the ordeal, for their hair is either absolutely absent or styled as if rats had a feeding frenzy on them,”Bhattacharjee said.
This strange ritual is now treated as much a spectacle as it is a test. Apart from naval ships, the Equator-crossing ceremonies are also sometimes performed on civilian ocean liners and cruise ships to entertain passengers.
Reference: Roar Edvin Folland – Youtube