I arrived at the Sangam temple heart beating to the sound of rythmic drums and an excitement in the air. After a ten day ritual of worship to the godess Maha Devi these South Indian devotees believe if they are cleansed physically and spiritually they will feel no pain. Annually they bathe in the sea, before dancing yellow clad to the temple where Hindu priests then pierce their bodies, cheeks and tongues with silver skewers and rub their skin with turmeric before the procession begins.
I watched with bated breath as remarkably the devotees appeared, their mouths and bodies adorned with piercings they prepared to step onto the glowing embers. They seemed to be in a hypnotic trance, as mystifyingly one by one they walked across the fire pit, not only once but three times.
As I watched I felt my mouth and skin tingle and really couldn’t believe my own eyes. This incredible extraordinary event will stay with me for a very, very long time.