In Ceylon, groups of mystics who worship the god Kataragama, have been holding demonstrations aimed at proving that faith can overcome pain.
MV Religious devotee holds crucible of fire
CV Devotees hold up hands
MV Devotees has skin pierced by metal hooks
FV As man goes into trance
GV Man hauled up scaffold and swinging freely
GV People dancing
GV Men swinging
SV Children dancing
SV Stocking embers
SV Woman dancing
GV Devotees approach fire
GV More dancing
SV People running across embers
SV More people running across embers
CV Woman's feet examined
Initials OJP/JH/MH/1448 OJP/JH/MH/1624
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Background: In Ceylon, groups of mystics who worship the god Kataragama, have been holding demonstrations aimed at proving that faith can overcome pain.
The religious mystics and university dons have been involved in constant argument about the extent of pain the human body can tolerate. The mystics therefore organised a ceremony in colombo at which they hoped to prove their point that faith and inner purification could prevent pain. A follower had his skin pierced by metal hooks before these were attached to thin ropes and he was swung from a scaffold. In Ceylon this practice is often carried out as an act of penance by the mystics who believe that where there is no blood there can be no pain.
In order to disprove the dons' theory that it takes courage only to perform such feats, the Kataragama followers then stocked up blazing coals for an exhibition of firewalking. they claimed they could even stand still on the coals without pain, but although encouraged by the enthusiastic singing and dancing of their adherents, those who took part int he exercise wasted little time in scuttling over the embers.
After each run the devotees had their feet examined to show that nothing had happened. The dons, of course, felt this still didn't prove that faith....rather than courage...had helped in the performance.