Little girl prepares to have her scalp slashed open in Islamic ritual
- WARNING: GRAPHIC CONTENT
- Young Shia Muslim girl looks lost as her head is held still in preparation for the knife in the Ashura festival
- Other pictures show men and boys covered in blood after slashing themselves with razorblades and knives
- The tradition of blood-letting in the run up to Ashura is seen by some as a way of washing away their sins
As a child cries in the background covered in blood, this young girl is preparing to feel a blade slice open her skin.
The young Shia Muslim was taking part in a ceremony to mark the Muslim festival of Ashura, which mourns the death of Imam Hussein, a grandson of the Prophet Mohammed.
It is marked by 10 days of mourning, in which many devotees whip and cut themselves with chains and knives and some drive knives into their scalps and is seen as a way of washing away their sins.
The pictures above were taken in Chennai during the mourning procession on the tenth day of Muharram, which marks the day of Ashura.
Ashura mourns the death of Imam Hussein, a grandson of the Prophet Mohammed, who was killed by armies of the Yazid near Karbala in 680 AD.
In the picture of the girl with the knife held to her head, a child can be seen in the background.
The youngster is sucking a dummy, with a blood-smeared forehead and clearly distressed.
Other photographs taken today show young boys are paraded down the street as they slap their claret-stained chests in an act of flagellation.
The act of punishing oneself is part of the Muslim festival, and as the women line the streets beating their chests, topless men and boys whip themselves with knives and razorblades leaving to give themselves nasty back wounds.
In one particularly disturbing photo, a man wearing a blood-splattered shirt has sliced a huge gash in the top of his head and appears to be slapping it.
The religious festival is celebrated widely
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