Thimithi Fire-Walking Ceremony

Thimithi Fire-Walking Ceremony

October-November; during the Tamil month of Aipasi
The Thimithi Fire-Walking Ceremony takes place in Singapore's Sri Mariamman Temple during the Tamil month of Aipasi (which corresponds to the Hindu month of Kartika; Tamil people hail from southern India). This Tamil Hindu observance is part of a two-month festival in which various scenes from the great Hindu epic, the Mahabharata, are reenacted by devotees and the epic itself is read aloud in installments.
During the Thimithi Fire-Walking Ceremony followers of the goddess Draupadi—who plays a major role in the Mahabharata —walk across a bed of red-hot coals. This observance begins at 2:00 a.m. in the Sri Srinivasa Perumal Temple. The fire walking takes place more than 12 hours later, at 5:00 p.m. The Padukalam (Battle Field) ceremony, based on a battle scene from the Mahabharata, takes place before the fire-walking event. The Mahabharata tells that after an 18-day-long war Draupadi volunteered to walk on hot coals in order to demonstrate her purity.
Today's worshippers do so to show their faith in the goddess. They begin by making offerings at Draupadi's shrine. Then they receive bracelets of yellow string, in which a piece of turmeric and a sprig of margosa leaves are entwined. In addition they are prepared for their ordeal with three whip lashes across the wrist. Then they form a procession leading to the Sri Mariamman Temple, where the bed of hot coals awaits them. After crossing the coals, devotees splash through a pit of milk, set up as a means of soothing the skin on their feet. Local historians trace the Thimithi Fire-Walking Ceremony at this temple to the 1840s.
CONTACTS:
Hindu Endowments Board
397 Serangoon Rd.
Singapore, 218123 Singapore
65-6296-3469
www.heb.gov.sg
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