Hindu devotees to fire walk in city centre in honour of female deity

2008-03-21 00:00

Hindu devotees will participate in the annual fire walking ceremony at the Siva Soobramoniar and Marriamen temples in Pietermaritzburg today to commemorate the female deity Draupathi.

This 5 000-year-old tradition was brought to KZN by Hindu immigrants from the Madras area in south India over 140 years ago.

After 10 days of fasting, retired police Captain Ramkuwar Sunker will pierce his flesh with hooks and skewers and brave hot coals for the 32nd time.

The ritual is a physical manifestation of his devotion to the god Dbaba or Mudrayveeran (god of Great Spirit), he told The Witness.

Sunker said that he participates as a prayer offering for people who are suffering from various ailments and also for world peace.

“The piercings do not hurt because I have purified my body and cleared my mind,” he said. Sunker explained that much preparation goes into getting ready for the event. Devotees must avoid sexual pleasures, meat, alcohol and smoking for at least 10 days.

“Your body needs to be pure when you perform this prayer,” he added.

“I have been eating only fruit and vegetables and I have avoided all things pleasurable to me.”

Spectators will gather in their thousands and as a result most of Langalibalele (Longmarket) Street will be closed for the day.

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