Fire Walking at Thimithi
From: Sunday, October 28 2007, 8:00 pm
to: Monday, October 29 2007, 7:59 pm
This bizarre spectacle is the major event of the Thimithi Festival, which takes place close to the start of Deepavali, the Festival of Lights. Barefoot Hindus walk across white-hot embers at the Sri Mariamman Temple in honour of the goddess Draupadi.
Draupadi is a heroine of the epic poem Mahabharata, a princess who was the subject of her husband's wager in a game of dice he played with his cousin, Duryodhana, and lost. That was not her only hardship; indeed she epitomises harsh treatment of women by men. However, she could count on Lord Krishna's support and ultimately - to prove her innocence - when she walked across burning coals, she became a goddess.
It is in honour of Draupadi's courage that devotees subject themselves to a test of faith by walking barefoot across a four-metre red-hot coal pit. In defiance of the intense heat, firewalkers focus in deep concentration to complete the challenge miraculously unscathed. Fire walking is also regarded as a test of purity for Draupadi's devotees. It is said that if a devotee is not pure, he or she will fail the test and be burnt.
Events start in the afternoon and the coals are laid in early evening. The spectacle goes on until well after midnight, but as it gets very crowded you will need to get there early for a good viewing spot. Please note that temple etiquette requires visitors to be dressed appropriately (no knees or shoulders should be bared) and shoes should be removed at the door.