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The festival was originated in the honor of goddess Draupadi Amman

Thimithi is a firewalking annual tradition celebrated every year in Tamil Nadu. The ceremony is performed during the month of Aipasi in the Tamil calendar, about a week before the festival of light Deepavali (between the month of October and November according to the Gregorian calendar). The festival was originated in Tamil Nadu, South India in the honor of goddess Draupadi Amman, who is considered the incarnation of goddess Mariamman.

It is an international Hindu festival celebrated all around the world. Devotees living in other countries like Fiji, Sri Lanka, Singapore, Malaysia, Mauritius, and areas with large south Indian populations also celebrate the festival.


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The legend behind Thimithi

Thimithi festival has its roots in the times of the Hindu epic, Mahabharata. Mahabharata is the story of the war within the kin. Kauravas and Pandavas fought furiously in the battle which came to be known as Mahabharata. But before the war, Kauravas tricked Pandavas in the game of gamble, Yudhishthira the eldest of Pandavas lost everything including his wife- Draupadi, and his brothers. Duryodhana the eldest of Kauravas asked Dushasana his younger brother to strip Draupadi but she was saved by Lord Krishna. After the dishonor, Draupadi took a vow that she will not tie her hair until she washes them with Duryodhana's blood. After eighteen day-long battle, the victory came to the Pandavas. Finally, after thirteen years, Draupadi washed her hair with Duryodhana's blood and combed her hair. However, she had to prove her purity by walking barefoot on the burning coal. To commemorate this event Thimithi is celebrated.

The purification by walking on fire or Agni has also been mentioned in numerous other Hindu scriptures like Ramayana, where Goddess Sita underwent an Agni Pariksha to prove her purity.

The Procedure

Man walking on fire It is the ceremony of self-purification for the ritual procession and attain spiritualismPexels


Thimithi is not a single-day ritual that is performed on a particular day instead it is a nearly two-and-a-half-month-long celebration. During this time the story of Mahabharata is enacted depicting 18 discernible rites. The ritual of Timithi alone is mainly dedicated to the lady of misfortune, the goddess Amman- Draupadi. It is the ceremony of self-purification for the ritual processions or spiritualism. Men, women, and even small children take part in this ceremony. It is believed whoever walks on the bed of burning coal as they worship Goddess Amman, the goddess showers them with blessings and they come out unscathed.

One week before Diwali, a flag with the picture of Arjuna and Lord Hanumana is hoisted to mark the beginning of the main celebration. From this day onwards devotees read Mahabharata every night until two days after Thimithi. The final chapter of the Mahabharata is read on the last day and this festival comes to an end. At the end of the session, the fire in the pit is extinguished with milk and water.

ALSO READ: Hindu Rituals Which Are Surprisingly Logical

Modern View of the ritual

Many people have raised their voices against the festival and said that this kind of festival should not be celebrated in modern India. This is because there were cases when people especially children were injured while walking on fire. Some cases of children getting injured during Thimithi were also reported in Tamil Nadu. However, the ritual is continued to be celebrated in small villages, towns, and cities as they continue to believe that more than anything Thimithis is a festival of respect, honor, and purification.

Keywords: Tamil Nadu, Travel, India, festivals, culture, Mahabharata, South India, ritual, firewalking


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