'Possessed' Women Queue For Five Hours To Get Whipped

Women who are believed to be possessed by 'evil spirits' have queued up for hours to be whipped.

This practice is part of the annual Hindu festival called Vijayadasami which takes place at the ancient Sri Achappan Temple in the remote village of Bavithram Vellalapatti, in India's south east.

The festival takes place at the end of Navratri each year. Navratri is a special time in the Hindu calendar marked by nine nights of prayer. The Vijayadasami event celebrates good triumphing over evil.

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Women attend the festival to be whipped by a priest if they are deemed possessed. Often they are deemed possessed by older or male members of their family.

At this year's festival woman waited in a line half-a-kilometre long for over five hours to have their hands, arms and backs whipped by a priest as a means of ridding them of evil spirits.

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If the women rise from their knees after one lash, they are considered normal or not possessed but if they remain for a number of consequent lashes, then there was an evil spirit that has been cured.

By whipping the evil spirit out of a woman it is believed their whole family will be protected from misfortune.

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