Thaipusam is a Hindu festival (celebrated mostly by Tamils) held in January/February each year to celebrate the birth of Murugan (the son of gods Shiva and Parvati). The participants shave their heads and perform a pilgrimage, at the end of which they shove very sharp skewers through their tongues or cheeks. Some of the practitioners put hooks into their back and pull heavy objects like tractors. The aim is to cause as much pain as possible - the more you endure, the more “blessings” you receive from the gods. The festival is popular in India, but the largest celebrations take place in Singapore and Malaysia, where it is a public holiday.