The festival of Gajan is celebrated mostly in the state of West Bengal in eastern India, and coincides with the Bengali New Year.

Devotees offer sacrifices and perform acts of devotion during the festival in the hopes of winning the favour of the Hindu god Shiva. The central theme of this festival is deriving satisfaction through pain, such as piercing, running over hot coals or lying on a bed of nails.

IBTimes UK presents photos of this year's Gajan festival.

Gajan Hindu festival
A Hindu priest blesses ritually bound devotees lying on the ground as part of the annual Shiva Gajan religious festival at Pratapgarh, on the outskirts of the north-eastern Indian city of AgartalaJayanta Dey/Reuters
Gajan Hindu festival
Devotees roll on thorny bushes laid on the ground to reach a temple in Khurda district in the eastern Indian state of OdishaReuters
Gajan Hindu festival
A woman dressed as Kali runs over smouldering coals during a Gajan ritual at Pratapgarh village in AgartalaArindam Dey/AFP
Gajan Hindu festival
A Hindu devotee lying on a bed of nails is carried past spectators at Pratapgarh village in Agartala, the capital of the north-eastern Indian state of TripuraArindam Dey/AFP
Gajan Hindu festival
A Hindu devotee reacts as a nail is pierced through his arm skin during the annual Gajan festival in Batanal villageRupak De Chowdhuri/Reuters
Gajan Hindu festival
The arm of a devotee is pierced with nails as he is crucified in Batanal villageRupak De Chowdhuri/Reuters
Gajan Hindu festival
A Hindu devotee is seen nailed to a cross during the annual Gajan festival in Batanal village, east of KolkataRupak De Chowdhuri/Reuters
Gajan Hindu festival
A Hindu holy man touches an infant with his foot to bless him during a religious procession to mark the Gajan festival in KolkataRupak De Chowdhuri/Reuters
Gajan Hindu festival
An Indian girl dressed as Hindu goddess Kali rehearses prior to participating in a religious rally to celebrate the Gajan festival in KolkataDibyangshu Sarkar/AFP
Gajan Hindu festival
A young man dressed as the Hindu god Bramha waits to take part in a rally to celebrate the Gajan festival in KolkataDibyangshu Sarkar/AFP
Gajan Hindu festival
Hindu devotees throw flammable powder onto a fire as they perform rituals to celebrate the Gajan Festival in KolkataDibyangshu Sarkar/AFP