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

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.

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

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 festival Taylor Weidman/Getty Images

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