Friday, August 23, 2013

'Fire-walking', Avissawella, Sri Lanka.

Embers from a fire being raked before the 'fire-walking'. The infra-red radiation was intense around the bed of embers.

A rectangular ditch containing milk is poured into the entrance end of the fire-bed.

The Sacred Idol of the reigning Diety - 'Muththumari Amman' is made to look over the embers and is placed at the exit end of the fire-walkers.

An act of fire-walking by a devotee who does this after dipping the feet in the ditch containing milk..

Dipping the feet at the exit end into a mix of saffron and cow-dung.

'Fire-walking' is a religious ceremony practiced in the Indian subcontinent for ages. It falls within the category of self-torture done in religious ecstasy or trance. Self-torture is a part of many religious traditions. Beckett the Arch-Bishop of Canterbury was found to have self-inflicted wounds on his back, after his death at the hands of some Knights of the King's court. The Dervishes and Sufis among the Muslims practise this to this day. Lord Buddha condemned this practice. Going hungry or being seated in one posture could be classified as a mild form of self-torture.

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