Thimithi (Firewalking) Ceremony, Singapore 2002
Thimithi is the name of the annual Hindu fire walking ceremony which is a form of penance or thanksgiving in honour of the goddess Draupathi, heroine of the epic poem, the Mahabharata. Legend has it that she had to prove her innocence and fidelity by walking barefoot over hot coals.
Thimithi is held in the month of Aipasi, which is between the solar months of October and November. Celebrations begin at the Sri Srinivasa Perumal Temple in Little India around 2am and a priest leads a grand procession through the streets to the Sri Mariamman Temple (of the rain goddess) where the Thimithi takes place. The fire-walking usually begins around 4am and a priest is the first to brave the long pit of embers, followed by other devotees. The ritual attracts several thousand participants and even more spectators, many of whom wait long hours to witness relatives or friends perform.
After walking over the hot coals, the devotees wade through a pit filled with goat's milk, then rub their feet with yellow powdered turmeric. The result is that the ground around the area of the temple is stained with yellow.