Young shaven-headed boys wearing make-up and brightly coloured sequinned robes are ordained as Buddhist novices in Mae Hong Son, northern Thailand.

Poy Sang Long
A relative applies make-up to the face of a Tai Yai boyTaylor Weidman/Getty Images
Poy Sang Long
A Tai Yai boy poses for a portrait during the Poy Sang Long festival in Mae Hong Son, ThailandTaylor Weidman/Getty Images
Poy Sang Long
A Tai Yai boy wearing make-up and a brightly-coloured outfit poses for a portrait during the Poy Sang Long festivalTaylor Weidman/Getty Images
Poy Sang Long
Relatives take pictures of a Tai Yai boy before a ceremonyTaylor Weidman/Getty Images

The Poy Sang Long (Festival of the Crystal Sons) is a traditional rite of passage held every year among the Shan, or Tai Yai, people of Myanmar and northern Thailand.The ceremony goes on for three days.

First, the boys' heads and eyebrows are shaved by their parents or other relatives. Then they are made up and dressed in colourful finery, transforming them into "Jewelled Princes" in imitation of Lord Buddha.

Poy Sang Long
Relatives help boys prepare for the festivalTaylor Weidman/Getty Images
Poy Sang Long
Relatives dress and apply make-up to a Tai Yai boy to prepare for a ceremony during the Poy Sang Long FestivalTaylor Weidman/Getty Images
Poy Sang Long
Tai Yai boys wearing make-up wait for a ceremony to begin during the Poy Sang Long festival in Mae Hong Son, ThailandTaylor Weidman/Getty Images
Poy Sang Long
Tai Yai boys wait aboard a bus before visiting a monastery in Mae Hong SonTaylor Weidman/Getty Images
Poy Sang Long
Tai Yai boys take part in a ceremony during the Poy Sang Long festival in Mae Hong SonTaylor Weidman/Getty Images
Poy Sang Long
Tai Yai boys take part in a ceremony during the Poy Sang Long festivalTaylor Weidman/Getty Images
Poy Sang Long
A Tai Yai boy drinks a glass of water before a ceremony in the monasteryTaylor Weidman/Getty Images
Poy Sang Long
Tai Yai boys wait for a ceremony to begin in the monasteryTaylor Weidman/Getty Images
Poy Sang Long
A Tai Yai boy yawns as he waits for a ceremony to beginTaylor Weidman/Getty Images

For the next three days, the boys are carried everywhere – they are only allowed to touch the ground inside a temple or at home.

Poy Sang Long
Boys ride on their relatives' shoulders during a processionTaylor Weidman/Getty Images
Poy Sang Long
A Tai Yai boy rides on the shoulders of a relative during a processionTaylor Weidman/Getty Images
Poy Sang Long
A Tai Yai boy laughs as he is carried during a processionTaylor Weidman/Getty Images

On the third day the boys are divested of all their finery and dressed in the simple saffron robes of a Buddhist monk. They enter the monastery and are expected to remain there for at least a week, sometimes many years.

Poy Sang Long
A Tai Yai boy grimaces as a monk shaves his head during the Poy Sang Long festivalTaylor Weidman/Getty Images

It is believed that the boys and their parents will gain favour from going through this process.