by Dushiyanthini Kanagasabapathipillai ~ firstname.lastname@example.org
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.