Bizarre Indian ritual sees people smash coconuts on head

Indian devotees smash coconuts on their head – in a bizarre plea to the gods for health and success.

The painful practice takes place in Tamil Nadu, a southern Indian state, where thousands flock to take part each year.

Men, women and even children patiently sit in lines as godmen are handed large coconuts before bringing them crashing down on the skulls of the devotees.

Coconut Head Smash Ritual

The devotees have coconuts smashed on their heads

Many wince in pain, while others – apparently in a meditative state or simultaneously praying – barely flinch.

Each year dozens are tended by medical staff for serious injuries – prompting doctors to warn that the practice is potentially deadly and ironically hazardous to health.

Anil Kumar Peethambaran, a neurosurgery professor at the Indian governments medical college, told local media: “There is a certain amount of tolerance for the skull beyond which it will cause damage.

“If the coconut breaks, the energy is dissipated, but when it doesn’t this can cause damage to the skull.”

Coconut Head Smash Ritual

While many wince, some remain in a zen like trance throughout the painful ritual

But despite the warnings, many refuse to stop the ancient tradition, which is thought to have begun in the 19th century.

One devotee said: “My family have been coming here for years. Today four of us have come for the ritual. The coconuts broke well – we hop sit brings success.”