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Thimithi – The Fire-Walking Festival of Tamil Nadu!

By Siji Ram

Have you heard of a fire-walking festival? Strange and scary; both at the same time. Well, Thimithi is a fire-walking festival that is celebrated in Tamil Nadu, a popular South Indian state of India!

Tamil Nadu is a land of traditions and customs, From the endless list of temples to the unique festivals celebrated here, there are many aspects of the state that are worth to explore. Thimithi is also a part of the rare culture of the state.

Let's see why and how this festival is celebrated. The festival is believed to have its roots from the times of the Hindu epic, Mahabharata. As per the epic, the Pandavas had lost their land, wealth and even their wife Draupadi to the Kauravas in the game of dice. 

thimithi

Photo Courtesy: Dushipillai

Duryodhana, the eldest of the Kauravas, wanted to further demean Pandavas and asks his brother Dushasana to strip Draupadi in the court. Though Lord Krishna comes to her rescue, Draupadi takes a vow that she will comb and tie her hair only after smearing it with Dushasana's blood.. This was followed by the great Mahabharata war. It is also believed that after the war, Draupadi had to walk on a bed of burning coal and come out unhurt, to prove her innocence. Thimithi is a festival celebrated to commemorate this event.

Draupadi is worshipped as Draupadi Amman by a community of Tamilians known as Draupadi Amman cult. They consider Draupadi as their village Goddess and the rituals and festivals related to the Goddess is strictly observed. One such village in Tamil Nadu is Kondal in Nagapattinam district, where Draupadi Amman is their 'Kula Devatha' or village deity. Thimithi is a festival celebrated here.

thimithi

Photo Courtesy: Dushipillai

Apart from Kondal, there are several other Draupadi temples spread across Tamil Nadu and Karnataka. Interestingly, devotees of the Goddess celebrate Thimithi in countries like Srilanka, Singapore, Malaysia, Mauritius and South Africa where a major part of the Indian population consist of Tamilians.

The festival is celebrated during October-November. Here's how you can reach Nagapattinam. From here, you can hire a taxi to the temple if you wish to be a part of the celebrations. Devotees walk on the burning coal bare-foot to seek Draupadi's blessings.

Travel to the land of cultural diversities and witness one of the strangest festivals you will ever come across, Thimithi!

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