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Le Précurseur du bungey

Precursor of Bungy

Land diving in Vanuatu

What: N'gol (land diving)
Where: Pentecost Island, Vanuatu

When: Every Saturday April through June

 

Hurtling head first towards the rapidly approaching earth, the slack vines suddenly pull taut and the divers' freefalling body is halted just centimetres from collision.

Traditional Land Diving or ‘N'gol’ still exists in Vanuatu and represents a rite of passage into manhood. Tribal males will leap up to 30 metres from a crudely constructed tower with their life hanging by vines tied to their legs. The higher the dive, the higher the crops will grow, they believe.

If all goes correctly the elastic vines will stretch far enough to allow their shoulders to brush the earth and bless the soil. This is believed to bring good harvest and fertility to the tribe.

Although N'gol is practiced only by males it is nevertheless a testament to the bravery of women. Legend has it that a woman fleeing her abusive husband climbed a tall tree and with her husband close behind she jumped. Filled with grief he jumped after her, only to see she had tied liana vines around her ankles. The woman survived while Tamale perished.

Some say A.J. Hackett witnessed N'gol and commercialised the idea, now commonly known as bungy jumping. However Land Diving in Vanuatu remains relatively unchanged since its origin.

Tourists can take day trips from Port Vila to watch the ritual but due to the risk, foreigners are not allowed to participate.

March 21, 2011, 12:50 pm Freya Taylor, Quirky Festivals Yahoo!Xtra  Photo credit Paul Stein

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