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Charak puja is a traditional Bengali festival celebrated mainly in the rural areas of North India. A festival dedicated strictly to penance, Charak puja stands unique in the scenario of Bengali festivals. The groups of men and women, who take up this 'Brata' or the time bound ritual, have to go through a month long fasting from sunrise to sunset, live strictly on fruits & perform the daily worship in order to get the blessings of the lord. On the day of the 'Charak' or the 'Gajan', as it is also called, bamboo stages are made on bamboo poles, the height ranging from 10 to 15 feet. What follows is a macabre yet fascinating. After the month long penance the devotees step up the high bamboo stage & hurl themselves forward. The ground on which they fall is embedded with glass, thorns, knives & other devious weapons. But lo! The devotee escapes unhurt! The blessing of the god keeps him safe from all the possible harms. The devotees have other ways to show the god's blessings. They impale their body parts without feeling the pain. The festival not only reflects the blind faith but also the eagerness to accept penance on the road to achieve salvation

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