Cattle and their owners run through flames in south India for Hindu ritual

Hindu devotees led ritually decorated cows over burning hay to celebrate Makar Sankranti in south India in a rite seeking good fortune and protection from harm.

In Mandya district, Karnataka state for the Hindu festival of Makar Sankranti on January 14, men decorated cows with garlands and bells and walked them over burning piles of hay.

The Makar Sankranti festival marks the advent of spring and is celebrated by kite-flying and other regional festivities in the month of January. The age-old ritual is believed to bring good fortune and keep cows and other livestock and crops from harm's way.

While the rest of the country celebrates Makar Sankranti (also known as Pongal, Lohri, Bihu in different parts of India), people in Karnataka perform the cattle fire walk instead.