Puri, Apr 18 : Tribals in Puri have observed a unique atonement ritual, wherein, they observe a bizarre tradition of piercing iron hooks in their bodies while paying obeisance to please their deity.
According to tradition, tribals lacerate themselves with hooks and nails so that they can atone for their sins in this lifetime itself.
Fearlessly, they pierce iron nails deep into the skin and then worship the Goddess.
What's more, as if piercing nails is not a punishment in itself, they tie a rope to the nail and suspend themselves from a bamboo tree and without any help, oscillate in the air much to the horror as well as amazement of onlookers.
The atonement starts well in advance, almost 21 days before the actual ritual when the tribals start fasting. They eat only vegetarian meals devoid of spices during this period.
"When we are in trouble, we pray to our Goddess and seek her blessings. I have been doing this since the last 15 years. We have to observe a fast for almost a month and have to follow strict rituals. By the grace of the God, I do not feel any pain," said Lochan Jena, a devotee.
The ritual begins with the tribal devotees taking a holy bath in a nearby pond before piercing nails into their body.
While the locals dauntlessly give themselves up to these rituals and lacerate themselves, onlookers are left speechless.
"Never seen anything like this before in my life. It is completely different, culturally. Nothing like this takes place in England...not even with clothes. The level of dedication and spiritedness is phenomenal and it is very fantastic to be here," said Crish, a tourist from England.
The ritual is hoary and has been in vogue for over 400 years now. Locals as well as tourists from the region come with their children to seek blessings before the 'punishing devotees', who they believe is equal to God. By Sarda LahangirANI)