By Bilal Kuchay
Shocking visuals show dozens of Hindu worshippers piercing their skin with metal hooks during an annual festival with the belief it will bring them good luck and make their wishes come true.
Thousands of devotees celebrated the colourful “Panguni Uthiram festival” last week by gathering at the temple of the deity Murugan – the Hindu God of War – in Kalapet in the southern Indian state of Puducherry.
The devotees coming from different parts of the state walked several miles on foot as a mark of their devotion.
Many people were seen carrying milk pots and coconuts to be offered at the temple.
However, dozens of worshippers showed their devotion by piercing their backs with iron hooks.
Footage shows devotees wearing saffron coloured shorts pulling a JCB machine and a lorry with ropes tied to the hooks pierced in their backs.
With their heads looking downwards, scores of devotees can also be seen hanging from the arm of the JCB machine and a large crane.
One of the devotees, Selva Kumar, said: “Acts of self-affliction are carried out in the hope of receiving blessings from the Lord Murugan.
“During the festival, hundreds of devotees pierce their bodies with numerous needles and spikes as mark of penance for their wishes to be fulfilled.
“We don’t feel any pain.”
Panguni Uthiram festival is celebrated annually during the full moon of the Tamil month of Panguni.
This festival is important to Hindus, as it commemorates the marriage of several deities including Parvati, Parameshwaran, Murugan and Deivanai.
The body piercing, hooking, hanging from cranes are similar to the vegetarian festival in Thailand.
The festival is celebrated in Murugan temples all over India, Sri Lanka, Singapore and Malaysia.