Devotees prepare for annual fire-walking festival at the Sri Mariamman Temple

SINGAPORE - Thousands of devotees prepared for the annual fire-walking festival, or Theemithi, at the Sri Mariamman Temple on Saturday (Oct 22).

Theemithi is a Hindu religious vow in which the devotee promises to walk on fire in exchange for a wish or blessing granted by the goddess Draupadi.

The festival's events started as early as Oct 1, combining several celebrations that re-enact important and auspicious events from the Hindu epic, the Mahabharata. It symbolically represents the virtuous victory of overcoming misfortunes, while holding strong to principles and morality.

Joining the devotees on Saturday was Minister for Home Affairs and Law K. Shanmugam.

Of the event, Mr Shanmugam said it is a festival celebrated by many Hindus and is one which has gained in popularity over time.

"You see Indians, Hindus, taking part, but you also see others, non-Hindus taking part. It's really something unique about Singapore," he added. "Many of us celebrate with each other... it brings the bonding closer and makes us, in a way, a stronger society."

The event also saw around 30 Chinese devotees who took part in the festival - donating and participating in prayers, making offerings and taking on fire-walking as an act of faith.

The preparations that took place on Saturday night included making milk pots, tying neem leaves and garlands, as well as welcoming a chariot from the Sri Srinivasa Perumal Temple.

Correction note: An earlier version of the story misspelled Sri Mariamman Temple as Sri Mariammam Temple. We are sorry for the error.