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SUVA, Fiji (Radio Fiji News, Aug. 28) – More than 2,000 people braved cold winds and rain today to watch the annual fire walking ceremonies at one of Fiji’s largest Hindu temples in Suva.

The Raj Maha Mariamman Temple in Howell Road is said to be one of the first temples in the country to conduct fire walking ceremonies.

The event draws Hindu devotees from abroad who return home to participate, as well as a large number of tourists.

This year, 30 people - the youngest 15-years-old - took part in ceremonies which included ten days of prayers and penance offered at the temple.

As part of preparations, the men ate what was given in the temple, slept on the floor, quit eating meat and quit smoking and drinking liquor.

They did all of this to maintain celibacy.

The devotees, who had their faces and bodies pierced with iron skewers, walked several times over embers spread along the bottom of a shallow pit.

Hindus believe fire walking gives a good harvest or prosperity to the participant and the whole community.

August 29, 2005

Radio Fiji News: http://www.radiofiji.org/news/current/currnews.htm

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