Festivals Begin at Udappu Thiraupathathevi Temple

By Dushiyanthini Kanagasabapathipillai

Udappu is a traditional Tamil fishing hamlet, situated 150kms North of Colombo. The fishing folk of this pristine coastal village have a different custom compared to the other fisherfolk living in rest of the country. Devotees flock here during this time of the year, to attend the festivals of Thiraupathathevi Devasthanam.

Rukmani Sathyapama Sametha Sri Paarthasaarathy Thiraupathathevi Devasthanam’s first day of annual festival began with flag hoisting, on July 25 th 2007 and ended in the night with fire walking.

The annual festival of the temple is 18 day long. Devotees call Poo Mithippu (flower walking) instead of Thee Mithippu (fire walking). Male devotees walk barefoot on orange colour fire. Thousands of devotees gathered to witness this rare event. The f ire walking ceremony continues till late night. Fire walking at Rukmani Sathyapama Sametha Sri Paarthasaarathy Thiraupathathevi Devasthanam is considered the largest in the Island. Thiraupathai is the virgin wife of Pancha Pandavar (five Pandava Princes).

The male devotees have gathered at the temple at dawn to prepare the bed of fire for fire walking. The tamarind logs were taken away at dusk, and the bed was made. Special poojas were held throughout the day. The Gods were taken on procession after the pooja. They were kept at the main entrance of the temple where the fire walking happens.

With pitch-darkness the silver pot of flags (Karakam) arrives at the venue. No lights were used towards the bed of fire. The devotee who carries the silver pot of flags walks on fire first, followed by the rest of the devotees, while the other devotees chanted “Narayana”, “Govintha” and “Arokara”. The devotee carries a silver pot of flags continues to walk up and down on sand afterwards till all finish walk on fire. He is described as Thiraupathai Amman, who watches her devotees walk on fire and bless the people and place.Young and old walk barefoot on fire without any fear. Some of the devotees carried their children in their arms, while walking on fire. The female devotees who have attained puberty were not allowed go near the fire or walk on fire, because it’s considered impure. The villagers of Udappu believe that, their village is blessed by Thiraupathai Amman after fire walking.

Udappu, has a population of 15,000 and is situated the in North West Province-Puttlam district.

Raja Kopuram (Main tower) of the Rukmani Sathyapama Sametha Sri Paarthasaarathy Thiraupathai Amman Devasthanam in Udappu is being built

Kodi Thambam (Where the flag is tied on flag hoisting day) of the temple

A statue of Thiraupathai Amman is decorated and kept in front of the Kodi Thambam

Petals of Lotus flower are being showered while the main pooja is performed at the Vasantha Mandapam

Nila Paavaadai (White cloth on Floor ) is being spread to welcome the idols

Devotees thronged the temple to witness the annual fire walking

Thiraupathai Amman is being carried by the male devotees on their shoulders

Thiraupathai Amman is being carried by the male devotees on their shoulders

Male devotees carry the Gods on the shoulders

Drummers lead the procession

Bed of fire is being prepared for fire walking

Tamarind wood is used to make a bed of fire

People sit in a circle on sand to witness the fire walking

The ritual to make the fire bed begins in the morning and goes on till dusk

Mela Kachcheri is being performed while the bed of fire is prepared

God Ganesh and God Murugan are seated on a vehicle of mouse is kept in front of the fire bed

Thiraupathai Amman is kept in front of the fire bed

Rukmani Sametha Sri Paarthasaarathy is kept in front of the fire bed

Females who have attained puberty are neither allowed go near the fire nor walk on fire

The fire bed is five metre long, half metre deep and more than a metre wide, which is made on the sand in front of the temple

Fire-walkers kept pouring water on them before emerging on the fire

3,000 male devotees have participated if this year’ s fire walking

Paranthaman carries a silver pot of flags. He is described as Thiraupathai Amman while fire-walkers walk on a bed of fire

Fire-walkers say that, they are stretched like a bed of flowers by the hair of Thiraupathai Amman

Fire-walkers have vegetarian meals only during the festival time

Rukmani Sathyapama Sametha Sri Paarthasaarathy Thiraupathathevi Devasthanam in Udappu is famous for the most number of fire-walkers taking part during the fire walikg ceremony

Hindus consider fire as sacred

The staues are worshipped by the devotees seated on sand

Devotees travel from far away towns and villages to participate in fire walking

Fire-walkers said they did not feel any pain while walking on fire, and most of them want to continue to walk on fire annually.

Source: humanityashore

Contact: Dushi.Pillai@gmail.com

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  1. Thanks a lot Dushiyanthini for your lively pictures.

    It was said pictures worth a thousand words, but I would say worth a million words of your pictures. These picture bring back my childhood memories. Yes! only in memories, I don’t have the privilege to witness in person anymore.

    I hope and pray that there will be a permanent peace in the island soon, and should be able to participate in these magnificent festivals!

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