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Extraordinary Rituals - BBC2

Extraordinary Rituals - 1 of 3
(Image credit: BBC/Claire Thompson)

A new three-part series shows how rituals from around the world bind people together at the most important, dramatic and emotional moments in their lives

Rituals, whether personal or involving huge gatherings, glue communities together.

Simon Reeve narrates this three-part documentary looking at some of the most spectacular and bizarre ritual ceremonies from around the world, with episode one focusing on rites of passage.

These include the ‘crocodile man’ ceremony of Papua New Guinea, in which young men are cut repeatedly until their scarred skin resembles a crocodile’s (pictured above).

A ritual performed in the Brazilian rainforest, where newborn babies have their ears pierced and their skin dyed, and later in the series on burials, a 500-year-old Buddhist shrine in Japan, is featured. It is a hi-tech, computer-controlled cemetery, offering a state-of-the-art environment in which to honour the dead.

Behind every one of over 3000 neon Buddhas is a small compartment bearing the ashes of a loved one.

Extraordinary Rituals 1 of 3 - shows a Buddhist shrine in Japan

Japan's high-tech Buddhist temple

From the makers of the BBC’s Human Planet, it’s another eye-popping justification for that new hi-def TV.

TV Times rating: ****