Devotees walk on embers to appease deity in Tamil Nadu

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Chennai, April 10 (ANI): As part of an age-old ritual, hundreds of religious-minded walked over embers in a pit and pierced their body parts with iron rods here as part of an annual thanksgiving festival to appease deities on Friday.

The devotees converged at Kali Amman temple and the Maraiamman temples here to perform the unique ritual of walking barefoot across a fire pit filled with burning embers.

The age-old ritual was performed to please the deity-Goddess Amman in which a huge fire pit was dug up by the temple administration and devotees walked across it over the embers.

"Around 5000 people take part in this fire-walk ritual. We start at around 3:00 p.m. and continue till 8.00 p.m. and it even continues late at night. Many of the participants also come from neighbouring areas like Bangalore. People from all walks of life including men and women take part in this ritual, as this is an offering made to the most powerful goddess," said Sekar, one of the devotees.

On Friday, the ritual started after initial prayers.

A yellow string with some turmeric and a spray of Margosa, or Neem leaf, is tied on the wrist of all those participating in the fire-walking ceremony. The fire pit is then lit with sandalwood pieces by the chief priest following which the devotees begin their devotional ritual.

"I have been doing this for the past seven years and the deity has always stood with us," said Sivakami, another devotee.

Besides, women and men, many of them in trance, pierced their bodies with stainless steel wires.

Men with iron cages around their torso also stood in the heat to thank the goddess for fulfilling their wishes.

Ahead of the festival, the devotees fast for ten days as penance.

This ceremony generates extraordinary religious enthusiasm and thousands of devotees surge towards shrine from the surrounding areas.

Besides Tamil Nadu, this festival is also prevalent in parts of neighbouring states of Andhra Pradesh and Kerala. By Jaikumar (ANI)

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