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Mariamman festival, complete with face piercing

Staring manEvery day in India, you will see something that you’ve never seen before. That has been an article of faith during our time here, and today was absolutely no exception.

I was taking the kids shopping, spending some birthday money gift certificates and such, when we passed a big truck decorated in honor of Sai Baba just around the corner from our home. Being a big Sai Baba fan, I called Susan and asked her to go down and take some pictures.

About an hour later, I got a frantic phone call from her, telling me absolutely not to take the kids back there. As I hadn’t planned on doing so anyway, I wasn’t sure what the big deal was. Only when we made it back home did I understand why she was concerned they not go.

Apparently there is a festival going on dedicated to the goddess Mariamman – at least that is the best I can figure out – wherein piercing and pain are supposed to bring the devotee closer to god. People would have priests poke holes in their cheeks and push through a 10 foot pole. Susan was a trooper and took pictures, even though she said she was getting physically ill watching the goings-on.

Friends of ours caught up with the procession as it moved on from our neighborhood, and they actually saw people hooked through their skin and then lifted into the air! We didn’t see that (and hence have no pictures of it), but if I can find a public gallery I will link to it here.

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