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In the Western world, body piercing is done primarily for fashion or the purpose of experience, but in other parts of the world, piercing can be an amazing and extreme religious experience.  Just take some of the practitioners in India, for example.

 map showing India

Every year at a specific time (usually in January or February), thousands of Tamil Hindus flock to cities in India for a festival called Thaipusam.  During this festival, those who want a favor from the gods will often make them an offering called a kavadi to garner their favor.  That offering, as you may have guessed, often includes bloodletting by way of body piercing.  But this isn’t just regular piercing.  Thaipusam devotees are known to pierce through their cheeks and tongue with large skewers, hang weighted balls from their chests, and even haul the weight of carts or tractors with sets of hooks pierced through their backs!

Tamil Hindu festival of Thaipusam

So how do they manage these amazing feats?  Well the secret may lie with another group of Indian self-piercers: the fakirs.  This group of Sufi initiates practice ritual piercing while under meditative trances, and amazingly, they seem to feel no pain.  According to those who have seen or practiced Sufi mysticism, awe-inspiring acts can be accomplished while under a religious trance.  Some of these include piercing through the tongue with large objects, sticking needles up the nose or through the eye socket, and even piercing through the chest with swords.  In many cases, the piercings even neglect to bleed, an amazing act in itself to be sure.

 piercing with large barbs while entranced

There are many scientific theories as to how this is accomplished with seemingly no pain or harm to those being pierced, but one of the simplest is merely the power of suggestion.  The connection between our minds and bodies has been proven medically time and again, and some believe that self-hypnosis is actually possible.  While most of us won’t be attempting to reach a trance-like state next time we get our nose pierced, the superhuman ability of the Tamil and the Fakirs to take massive piercings is certainly something to think about.

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