Bizarre Islam religious festival in India

Sufi Muslim holy men have been performing their difficult-to-watch acts of self-torture as part of the Urs Festival in India.

The holy men were photographed pushing spikes into their eyes, cutting their cheeks with knives and even stabbing themselves in the back with skewers.

While these actions were clearly performed for an audience who could be seen gawking and taking pictures, they are based on a religious tradition.

The six-day annual Urs festival sees thousands of followers of Sufi, often called a mystic branch of Islam, come together to mark the death of Moinuddin Chisti, who founded Sufi 800 years ago.

Sufi differs from most branches of Islam becuase its followers devote themselves to this one particular saint.

The holy men, who take part in the 75 miles march to a shire in Bhadiyad during the festival, will also self-flagellate and lead a night-long singing session with other worshippers.

Photo/Getty images
Photo/Getty images