Sunday, 27 November 2016

Fire walking, a strange Hindu festival

SlideShare
Fire walking .Cartoon Motivators
Superstitious beliefs exist in all cultures and religions and no country is free from this. In such queer beliefs, anxiety and fear psychosis are  the driving forces. In some cases, trust is the major factor. Hold on to the 'trust factor' and move forward and do not be obsessive.

People from South India 'celebrate' the Theemithi (in Tamil Thee means fire, Mithi means stomp or walk) or  fire walking  festival by walking barefoot across a  bed of hot burning wood  to propitiate the Hindu goddess Draupati Amman. This ritual has been around for centuries, particularly in the southern state of Tamil Nadu. It is celebrated during the Tamil month of Aippasi ( October and November). The fire-walking ceremony is also celebrated in Mauritius, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Singapore, Malaysia and other countries where a large chunk of South Indians live.
Quotes of Vivekananda. SlideShare
In Tamil Nadu,  numerous villages conduct this annual event on a regular basis right before Mariamman (goddess) temple. People, women and teenagers walk through the fire-pit either in fulfillment of their vow or their wishes to be fulfilled. They do it with  utter devotion and bakthi, after taking head bath and doing puja rituals before the main event that normally takes place after 9 PM.
Fire-walking or thimithi, Tamil Nadu, India. Daily Musings - Tumblr
 The participants are supposed to wear their dress dipped in water mixed in turmeric  and wear the neem leaves around their dress. In some places, participants carry in their bare hands a hot mud pot containing burning wood and  walk  through the fire-pit. The size of the fire pit varies and normally it will be 20 feet long and 6 to 9 feet wide.
Thimithi (fire walking), Tamil Nadu, India i1os.com
In some temples, it is a two or three day event and the culmination of  this festival is Theemethi.  In the villages, adults strictly avoid non vegetarian food, liquor and the couples practice celibacy during the festival period.

The ritual begins with the local priest mostly pujari(s), carrying a pot of hot burning wood in his hand and a pot containing sacred water on his head, followed by the participants  This Thimethi festival is done in honor of Draupati, wife of Pancha Pandavas of Mahabharata. The Pandava brothers were cheated by their cousins led by Dhuriyodana who not only took away their kingdom, etc.,  but also stooped to the lowest level and insulted Drupati in public which no woman could tolerate. She took a vow to comb her hair till the Pandavas emerged victorious in their battle against their cousins. With help from Lord Krishna, who acted as charioteer to Arjuna (one of the Pandava brothers) at last,  Pandava brothers recovered whatever lost and Draupati  combed her disheveled hair after Dushasana had been killed. He was the one who made an assault on her modesty right before other men. Draupati walked through the bed of fire and came out as fresh as she could be like a blossoming flower. In some villages in the past, scenes from Mahabarata were  enacted at night in the form of dance drama but, this tradition is on the decline.
Crossing of black cat. The Hindu
Anyway Theemithi  marks the victory of the good over the evil and fulfillment of Draupati's vow. She is believed to be the incarnation of Mariamman ( goddess Parasakthi). 

As for safety, minor accidents do occur and occasionally children trip and fall on the bed and burn injuries When the devotees walk on the bed of fire, they temporarily go into a trance and come out without any injuries. Steady walking is a must. Such festivals improve people's concentration, determination and most importantly endurance under difficult situations.   

Ref:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thimithi
http://www.mapsofindia.com/my-india/society/of-fire-walking-and-other-weird-practices-in-india