Shocking pictures has captured Indian women being whipped by a priest during a bizarre ritual to free them of ‘evil spirits’.
Every year some 2,000 women queue for five hours to be lashed at the ancient Achappan Temple in Trichy, south India.
When their turn comes, they kneel on the ground to be ferociously flogged by a priest.
Many wince and writhe in pain as their family members watch on, hoping they will be cured.
One school girl Vishakha, who was made to sit in the queue by her parents, said:
‘My parents think I’m possessed because I show no interest in my studies.
‘Now my friends will laugh at me when they see the whip marks I’ll get after attending a festival to cure mental disorders,’ cried the young girl.
Other teenage girls were brought by their parents for either not yet attaining puberty or having irregular periods.
A priest insisted the whipping was not a crime, adding:
‘It is a belief of devotees and the practice is an ancient tradition. We cannot alter.’
Some elderly women agree with the priest and believe the whipping will cure them.