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A devotee with his mouth covered with skewers.
A devotee wails as he begins preparations for the firewalking ceremony.

Throughout the ages people all over the world have put their faiths to the test and have managed to overcome temptation as well as endure excoriating pain.

Every year between the month of May and September, many Dravidian Hindus in Fiji (male only) walk barefoot in a pit of scorching ember in an amazing display of unwavering faith.

In the weeks leading to the firewalking ceremony, the devotees follow a path of self-denial and spiritual dedication.

By doing this they seek to improve their karma.

A few outsiders (tourists) curious to experience the same spiritual high have in the past successfully managed to walk on fire virtually unscathed.

This is, however, very rarely done and the call for foreigner participation is usually left with the head priest of a temple.

They like the other devotees they must give up meat, alcohol and other things considered unclean.

No special treatment is accorded to them.

They spend 10 days at the temple, sleeping on the floor and avoiding all contact with women.

During this phrase they devotee themselves to reading the scriptures and cleansing their thoughts.

They eat only two simple vegetarian meals daily and wear minimal clothing.

Hinduism dictates that all of creation is dynamically connected and seeks harmony.

For them good karma means being in accord with the universe and receiving favourable providence.

They believe bad karma can be overturned through ceremonies of penance like the firewalking ritual.

The months between May and September are particularly significant to sugarcane farmers because this is the period when they replant their crops.

Bad karma acquired over the year must be cleansed to ensure that it does not hinder planting the next years harvest.

This is the time for Dravidian Hindus to seek the favour of Parvati, the mother earth Goddess of nature.

The night before the firewalking, a large prayer meeting is held to prepare the fire pit for the ceremony.

The head priest seeks blessings from Parvati. He starts by lighting a small fire in a holy dish.

The fire is then transferred to a sacred pot symbolising the Goddess, which is carried on the head of a devotee, who leads the faithful around the temple three times, stopping frequently for prayers and benedictions.

The procession is accompanied by the rythmic beating of the drums and the playing of the shenai trumpet.

Once the third circuit is completed, the fire is transferred to the pit, where the firewalking ritual is to take place.
This is the time when the head priest seeks the approval of the Goddess Parvati.

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