In a strange practice, video footage has been discovered of a horrific ritual where close to 5,000 women voluntarily get flogged by priests at an Indian temple.
Filmed in the south of the country in Tamil Nadu, the video displays women who are lined up on their knees on a dusty road.
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They are then whipped by religious leaders and violently so at the Sri Achappan Temple at Bavithram Vellalapatti.
The flogging ceremony happens every year and it is not just the women, but children also who volunteer to be whipped. The line to be whipped can span up to 500 yards.
The ceremony is part of the Vijayadashami Festival. The ritual is said to cast out evil spirits as well as cure illness.
But one of the most bizarre factors of the practice?
It happens while police officers watch.
It is said that those who take part are considered ‘possessed’. Those who participate are dawned in traditional dress and are usually flogged until they cannot stand it.
Chelli, 60, who is a regular lasher, shared: “A single lash can cure them of their illness, pain and other evils.”
A 14-year-old school girl was also reported to be in the ritual.
She dealt with ‘red marks’ on her back.
“It pains a lot, it burns more but we have to bear the pain in order to free ourselves from the evil spirits and cure our illness,” she shared.
One of the priests when asked if the terrible practice was considered a crime, he responded with:
“It is the belief of the people that bring them here. If no one comes to get flogged, we won’t go to their houses and ask them to come to the lashing ground.”
The flogging participants consist of a variety of women who come to have their problems cured by the priests.
Another 14-year-old girl attended to get flogged as she suffered from irregular menstruation.
She believed that the flogging would heal her, ridding her of her health issue.
While another woman who was newly married, attended the flogging as her in-laws believed that she possessed an evil spirit that was not bringing luck to her new house.
Unfortunately, in India, practices such as the flogging are not uncommon.
Most subscribe to ‘blind faith’ as well as religious rituals to help them solve their issues, as opposed to modern medicine in the more remote villages of the country.
It is said that usually, those who believe they are possessed are suffering from mental health problems.
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In a study by Neuner, Pfeiffer, Schauer-Kaiser, Odenwald et al. (2012) it was discovered that “..in many of the areas of the world where beliefs about spirit possession are widely held, such beliefs are a standard consequence of psychological trauma and may be a way of explaining the dissociative symptoms that often accompany intense traumatic experiences.”
You can watch the disturbing footage below but be warned, its content may not be appropriate for younger viewers.
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