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Indo-Fijian Fire-walking at Nadera Temple

Columban Fr. Frank Hoare Shares an excert from his diary:

June 18, 1983

Today I went to take photos of the fire-walking at the Hindu temple at Nadera, a few miles from Suva. In the early 20th century, the British colonial government brought indentured laborers from to Fiji from South India. The laborers brought their ancient practice of fire-walking with them.

I arrived to find a large crowd already seated on the benches parallel to the 30 foot long fire pit. In this pit there were smoldering ashes, six inches deep, of logs which had been burning for the previous twelve hours. A dozen men and women of different ages had undergone purification rituals for nine days and, on returning from bathing in the sea, would be led across the hot ashes by the Hindu priest.

Without a telephoto lens, I needed to get close to the pit across which the devotees would walk. Spotting an empty space near the pit I excused myself as I crossed over the outer benches to reach it. As I sat down I heard a young woman behind me say to her companion in Hindi, “How can this be! Your father-in-law has just arrived and is sitting in front of you!” She presumed that I was a tourist and didn’t understand Hindi. Communication is not allowed between father-in-law and daughter-in-law in Indian tradition.

I said nothing at the time, but concentrated on taking photos as the Hindu priest cracked his whip urging the devotees to cross the burning ashes. Some ran across, some walked with dignity but all crossed the pit without anyone getting burnt. For Hindus, this was a manifestation of the power and protection of the goddess whom they had worshipped.

When I was ready to leave, I turned around to the two young ladies behind me and said in my best Hindi, “Your father-in-law excuses himself as he must leave now!” They almost fainted.

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