The major event at this Hindu festival is the breathtaking fire-walking ceremony in which devotees honour the goddess Draupathi. Draupathi is a tragic heroine in Tamil mythology now honoured as a deity for her purity and steadfastness through misfortune. Legend has it that she proved her fidelity and innocence to her husband by walking barefoot over burning coals, and Hindu priests and devotees demonstrate their faith, courage and endurance by walking across a 21-foot (7m) pit of glowing coals without showing any signs of pain. In this test of purity devotees believe that they will only be burnt if they are impure. Afterwards they wade through a pit of goat's milk and then stain their feet with yellow turmeric. On the eve of Thimithi a procession honouring Draupathi, led by a magnificent silver chariot, makes its way to the Sri Mariamman Temple (South Bridge Road) from the Sri Srinivasi Temple in Little India. The fire-walking ceremony takes place at the Sri Mariamman Temple. Only men are allowed to take part in the ritual despite the fact that it honours and commemorates a woman. Devotees believe that the act of fire-walking will purify them of past sins and bless them for the future.
Venue: Sri Mariamman Temple
Date: 25 October 2013