Fire walking is a South Indian festival honoring the Hindu goddess Sri Draupadi, who is the wife of the five Pandava brothers who walked on hot coals to prove her purity.
This is the first time I can go to this ceremony. Total respect for the amount of faith, the sense of community and probably the amount of pain going on there.
The devotees arrive from Little India, a couple of km away in groups, some chanting, some with music, some singing and dancing.
They then arrive a few hundred meters from the Sri Maramiam temple and wait in a staging area. All of this is very well organized; groups are allowed to pass from one area to the next by the organizers in order to organized the crowed. Some devotees told me they were expecting 5000 people.
I have seem this man many times in Thaipusam in the past years, seeing these people years after years in the viewfinder is one of the attractions I find in photographing these events.
I asked one of the Hindu man in the public how do the devotees group themselves; he told me they are friends and make a kind of team that make each of them stronger and helps them going through the ritual. Like a sport team he told me, doing this on your own would be much more difficult.
I did not really thought I could enter the temple, but as I was close to the entrance, one of the organizer asked me if I wanted get inside. I removed my shoes and they even gave me a plastic bag to carry them and I was moved inside the temple. Actually there is a special track for visitors and a different one for devotees.
The track goes along the fire pit, and although we are asked not to stay there too long I could witness two men doing the ritual.
This one above, was walking very casually (so to speak).
This one was more in running mode, you will notice the flower petals he through in the air before starting.
Walking out of the main temple area, people are waiting and resting and going through other stations, I must admit I am ignorant of what the whole pilgrimage consist of after the fire walking itself.
Outside people are resting.
The ground of the temple is covered in yellow power, probably not saffron more likely curcuma, clearly these feet have been walking through fire.
I saw a few times some ethnic Chinese Hindu in Singapore, here is one who was looking to be quite in pain,
I hope you enjoyed this post.
For my Hindu friends if you find a picture of yourself and you are not happy with that, let me know and I will remove it from this album, if you like them, let me know I’ll be enchanted. I am never sure if my schedule allowed but I would really enjoy meeting one of the groups and following you over an extended period of time to produce a photo-book of some sort.
Needless to say that these picture for my own interest in photography and the pleasure of sharing. They are a not for commercial use.
On a side note: I am a donkey sometime; when I pass at the temple on the afternoon I see this older gentleman of a photographer that I meet every year at Thaipusam. Not only did I not take his portrait but I did not ask for his contact. He carries a Nikon F5, if somebody knows him let me know.
Camera: Nikon D700
Lens: Nikkor 85mm F1.8D, only the first one is done with the 17-35F2.8AFS
2 thoughts on “Fire Walking Ceremony – Sri Mariamman Temple – Singapore”
A very interesting and complete report. Most enjoyable.
[…] can read more about the Fire Walking Ceremony in my post from 2014 (here). In short it is a Indian festival honoring the Hindu goddess Sri Draupadi, who is the wife of the […]