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Firewalking festival … sort of

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On Friday I got an email from our concierge’s office reminding everyone that there would be road closures this weekend because of the procession of the firewalkers…. that caught my eye.   So Ryan and I do a little online research (very thankful for google, see copy and paste below) and found out that the procession ends at the Sri Mariamman Temple in Chinatown at 1 AM and that there would be devotees walking across hot coals… cool!  We took a nap late afternoon, had some chicken rice at the restaurant on the corner and headed to Chinatown at 11:30 PM.  The temple was very busy (one might say chaotic) and not knowing the full story, we were pretty lost…  we were quite lost but it was interesting.  The arrival of some sort of statue (see video below) the making of a sand castle (can’t wait to see Ryan Singh this week so he can explain this!).  All very cool…  but we came for the firewalking.  Well… traditional ceremony after ceremony was taking place, chanting, bowing, some namaste, etc….  (Ryan and I still have no idea what’s going on) but we’re hanging out with the crowds in the Temple taking in the sites.  By 2AM we think it’s got to happen soon…. by 2:30 we were starting to fade and at 3AM we found a cab and came home!  I have NO idea what time the firewalking took place but I have to say I’m impressed by the dedication of those who stuck out the wait.  I was exhausted….  and a little sad too.  Next year we’ll have to plan better and find a devotee to guide us thru the experience.

Theemidhi (Fire Walking Festval)

Theemidhi or Fire Walking Ceremony honours Goddess Draupadi, heroine of the
epic poem “Mahabarata” and deified by the Hindus if South India as Draupadi
Amman. Legend has it that she had to prove her innocence and fidelity by walking
barefoot over hot coals. For weeks before the ceremony, devotees practice strict
vegetarianism and fasting rituals in addition to observing austerities.

Every year, Theemidhi is celebrated in the month of October or November. On
the actual day, the ceremony starts at 1.00am at the Sri Srinivasa Perumal
Temple where the devotees take ritual baths before setting off on a 4km walk to
Sri Mariamman Temple.

The highlight of the ceremony is the walk devotees make across a pit of fire.
The preparation of the four meter long pit of hot, burning coal that usually
takes about five hours is especially important and is preceded with prayer and
ritual.

Once the pit is ready, the chief priest of Sri Mariamman Temple would take
the first walk across the scorching bed of coals. With intense concentration,
barefooted devotees who wish to fulfill a vow make their walk across the pit –
completing the challenge miraculously unscathed. Absolute faith, courage and
endurance of devotees can be witnessed at this breathtaking ceremony.

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