Worshippers dance with a human SKULL to appease Hindu deity in India


Worshippers dance with a human SKULL to appease Hindu deity and call for rainfall and a large harvest in India

  • Hindu devotees took to the streets holding on to human skulls in Bardhaman, India, for annual festival
  • Incredible pictures show unusual ritual in which people carry heads in streets, attracting a lot of attention
  • Week-long Gajan festival mostly celebrated in West Bengal and is associated with Hindu deities such as Shiva

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Worshippers carrying a human skull dance along the streets of Bardhaman, India, as part of a festival which appeases a Hindu deity.

Startling photographs show residents of the city taking to the streets dressed in bright colours and holding on to several skulls.

The Hindu devotees were also carrying a sword as part of the the Gajan Festival, which is commonly celebrated in West Bengal at this time of year. 

Onlookers stood on their doorsteps, on the side of the street and outside shops, pulling out their phones to capture the incredible display. 

A few selected men, wearing flowers around their necks and ornate head accessories, were chosen to carry the skulls and often held them high above the crowds. 

The week-long Gajan Festival is mostly celebrated in West Bengal and is associated with Hindu deities such as Shiva, Neel and Dharmaraj.

According to photographer Avishek Das, on the last day of the Bengali Calendar, in the middle of April, devotees worship dead bodies to satisfy Lord Shiva for better rain and harvest, a 100-year-old traditional practice.  

The central theme of the pre-harvest festival is satisfaction through non-sexual pain, devotion and sacrifice.

Elsewhere in the region, men from Krishnadevpur pierce themselves with iron rods and hooks in a bid to show their devotion to Shiva, hoping for a favourable harvest, the BBC reports.  

Give a god a bone: A group of worshippers took to the streets in Bardhaman, India, today as part of the Gajan Festival, carrying human skulls along as part of the procession

Give a god a bone: A group of worshippers took to the streets in Bardhaman, India, today as part of the Gajan Festival, carrying human skulls along as part of the procession

Hindu devotees held up the human skulls and pointed them right in front of cameras for passersby who had stopped to take pictures and record the unusual ritual,

Hindu devotees held up the human skulls and pointed them right in front of cameras for passersby who had stopped to take pictures and record the unusual ritual,

Hindu devotees held up the human skulls and pointed them right in front of cameras for passersby who had stopped to take pictures and record the unusual ritual, 

A few selected people, wearing flowers and elaborate head accessories, appeared to be the chosen ones to carry the skulls for the parade

A few selected people, wearing flowers and elaborate head accessories, appeared to be the chosen ones to carry the skulls for the parade

A few selected people, wearing flowers and elaborate head accessories, appeared to be the chosen ones to carry the skulls for the parade

While many of those involved in the procession seem unfazed by the human skulls, others, including this young boy, were still a little wary of them

While many of those involved in the procession seem unfazed by the human skulls, others, including this young boy, were still a little wary of them

While many of those involved in the procession seem unfazed by the human skulls, others, including this young boy, were still a little wary of them

The week-long Gajan Festival is mostly celebrated in West Bengal and is associated with Hindu deities such as Shiva, Neel and Dharmaraj. Pictured: People stand on doorsteps to take pictures of the festival

The week-long Gajan Festival is mostly celebrated in West Bengal and is associated with Hindu deities such as Shiva, Neel and Dharmaraj. Pictured: People stand on doorsteps to take pictures of the festival

The week-long Gajan Festival is mostly celebrated in West Bengal and is associated with Hindu deities such as Shiva, Neel and Dharmaraj. Pictured: People stand on doorsteps to take pictures of the festival

The 100-year-old tradition is said to take place on the last day of the Bengali Calendar, in the middle of April, where devotees worship dead bodies to satisfy Lord Shiva for better rain and harvest

The 100-year-old tradition is said to take place on the last day of the Bengali Calendar, in the middle of April, where devotees worship dead bodies to satisfy Lord Shiva for better rain and harvest

The 100-year-old tradition is said to take place on the last day of the Bengali Calendar, in the middle of April, where devotees worship dead bodies to satisfy Lord Shiva for better rain and harvest

Those selected to carry the human skulls held them in their hands high above the crowds as large groups of people and took pictures of the unusual sight

Those selected to carry the human skulls held them in their hands high above the crowds as large groups of people and took pictures of the unusual sight

Those selected to carry the human skulls held them in their hands high above the crowds as large groups of people and took pictures of the unusual sight

The central theme of the pre-harvest Gajan festival is satisfaction through non-sexual pain, devotion and sacrifice. Pictured: A man carries a human skull through the street as people stop to take pictures

The central theme of the pre-harvest Gajan festival is satisfaction through non-sexual pain, devotion and sacrifice. Pictured: A man carries a human skull through the street as people stop to take pictures

The central theme of the pre-harvest Gajan festival is satisfaction through non-sexual pain, devotion and sacrifice. Pictured: A man carries a human skull through the street as people stop to take pictures

As well as the parade, the Hindu devotees then set down the human skulls and take part in a traditional dance (pictured)

As well as the parade, the Hindu devotees then set down the human skulls and take part in a traditional dance (pictured)

As well as the parade, the Hindu devotees then set down the human skulls and take part in a traditional dance (pictured)



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