The annual Puja and Firewalking Ceremony at the Howell Road Sangam Hindu Temple in Suva took place on September 27 this year. This tradition dates back about a century in Fiji. It’s quite a show.
The puja involves 10 days of fasting by devotees. They pierce their faces, paint themselves with markings, and walk from the water’s edge of Suva to the temple on Howell Road (approximately 4-5 km).
As they make their pilgrimage, the firewalking pit is prepared with hot coals. People fill the temple grounds well before the afternoon ceremony to be present when the devotees walk up the road and enter the site. It’s a lively occasion, full of percussive music and enactments of deity dramas.
We arrived an hour before the ceremony and checked out the scene at ground level, then moved up to get a balcony view.
There was a vibrant energy at the temple as the devotees made their way in to walk across the hot coals, looking brazen and completely unaffected by the heat. They then walked around the temple and ended up in the inner sanctum, where people crowded into as the ceremony ended.
The firewalking pit had a straight black line down the middle after the ceremony, where the men had walked to show their inner strength and devotion.