Scorcher of a way to be rid of evil

Villagers in eastern China have a unique way of washing away the taint of evil spirits - by bathing in a shower of scorching sparks. The ceremony in the village of Fangshan, Fujian province, begins when eight local men selected by village elders don
PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

Villagers in eastern China have a unique way of washing away the taint of evil spirits - by bathing in a shower of scorching sparks. The ceremony in the village of Fangshan, Fujian province, begins when eight local men selected by village elders don ancient-style Chinese attire to pray in a temple for protection from the Buddha. Then they remove the costumes and are escorted bare-chested to an adjacent square. With eyes closed, they lean their faces into fireworks that spit out white sparks, an act which has given the ceremony its local name, "eating flowers". Some of the participants twist and turn to expose more of their bodies to burn away evil. Those who take part in the ritual say they do not feel any pain.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 20, 2017, with the headline 'Scorcher of a way to be rid of evil'. Print Edition | Subscribe