Bizarre south Indian festival sees people play with deadly poisonous scorpions

A small village in southern India holds a dangerous festival every year, as people of all ages gather to handle hundreds of venomous scorpions.

The bizarre decades-old ritual sees droves of people flock to the village of Kandkoor in Karnataka state.

The festival, held around the time of the mainstream Hindu celebration of Naga Panchami, which honours snakes during the first week of August, sees people allowing tiny scorpions to crawl over their faces - and even toddlers take part.

The villagers then make their way to the local hilltop temple which includes an idol of Kondammai, the Hindu scorpion goddess.

While there, people offer the idol saris, coconuts and oil before praying for good health and prosperity.

But before making their way back down the hill, those taking part in the festival search the ground for scorpions and place them on their faces and bodies.

The scorpions in the area are known to be poisonous, and medical teams are kept on standby in case of accidental stinging or bites by the dangerous arachnids.