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Death defying jumps

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  • Death defying jumps

    From 90 feet tall rickety tower made of bamboos and vines, young men of Pentecost Islands, in the South Pacific, dive in air! They are connected to the tower by the liana creepers tied to their ankles. It is a semi religious ceremony called “Gol”. The purpose of this ceremony is to test the courage of the young men and accept their passage into manhood.

    The man who dives closest to the ground is accepted as the most courageous and valiant man. The liana creepers are cut in such a way that the diver will be separated from the ground only by a few inches, at the end of the dive. All that stands between the native and his certain death is the liana vine. Sometimes the vines stretch out or snap down, crashing the diver to the ground.

    Accidents do happen often but this does not hamper the dedication and determination of the natives. Early 1974, The Queen, The Duke Edinburgh and the other members of the royal family witnessed a Gol ceremony. One of the diver’s vines snapped unfortunately. The poor fellow crashed to the ground, broke his neck and died later.

    In 1950, David Attenborough and the B.B.C film crew brought back footage of the “Land divers” of Pentecost Islands. This gave rise to a new adventure sport called the Bungee Jumps, indulged in by the young dare devils.

    In this, the person jumps from a tall structure or bridge while connected to it by a long elastic cord. The cord stretches to absorb the energy of the fall and snaps back carrying him up again. This process is repeated several times till all the energy is spent .The thrill in this sport is the crazy free fall, head long, several times

    The first modern bungee jumps were made on the 1st of April 1979, in Bristol, by five members of the Oxford University Dangerous Sports Club. They were promptly arrested!

    Commercial jumping began in 1986. In spite of the dangers involved, several million jumps have been successfully made, by hundreds of persons, since 1980.

    Visalakshi Ramani