Worshippers dance with human skulls and carry heads in street in unusual ritual

Incredible photos show worshippers dancing along the streets holding human skulls above their heads as part of a ritual.

The unusual ritual, a Hindu festival in Bardhaman, India is designed to appease Hindu deity or Gods and bring fortune to the people.

Known as the Gajan Festival, it is a week-long Hindu celebration in the Indian state of West Bengal where residents dress in brightly coloured clothes and show off the skulls to gathering crowds

Those taking part in the annual festival, held every April, also carry swords.

The skull holders are dressed in flowers and elaborate headwear displaying bold, bright colours.

The visual spectacle attracts huge attention from the local community who gather and watch while taking photos of the Hindu devotees.

The Gajan Festival is associated with Hindu deities Shiva, Neel and Dharmaraj, reports the MailOnline.

Photos taken at the festival show worshippers carrying the skulls, often with paint rubbed across them.

Many of the skulls appear to still have their hair and a number of them have retained their teeth.

While those holding the heads are unfazed by touching them some of the crowd, particularly the children, do not seem so keen.

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According to photographer Avishek Das, the final day of the Bengali calendar is in the middle of April where devotees carry out a 100-year-old tradition of worshipping dead bodies to satisfy Lord Shiva who will, in turn, supply better rain and harvest

During the Gajan Festival, there are fairs, music and drums are played and some people take part in fire displays.

West Bengal is familiar with festivals, in another ancient pre-harvest celebration men pierce themselves with sharp iron rods and hooks.

The show of pain is considered a way in which worshippers can signal their devotion to the Hindu deity, Shiva, in order to receive a good harvest.

The men who take part will pierce their lips, ears, arms, chest, belly and back causing understandable pain to themselves, but a sacrifice they see as worth paying for to have a season of plentiful crops, reports the BBC.

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