Walking On Fire or Ag Ka Matam Jigedevi Tamilnadu, originally uploaded by firoze shakir photographerno1.
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This is my new set at Flickr.com
These pictures would have not been possible without Dr Abbas Ali Meer who bought me from Chennai after I had shot the 7 Moharam juloos , we left the same night from Chennai to Dharmapuri where Dr Abbas had to attend a medical camp,it was a all night journey by bus I stayed at his lodge at Dharmapuri.
When he returned from his assignment we took a bus to Krishnagiri and from there an auto ricksha bought us to Jigedevi a small village with a considerable Shia presence.
The early Shia settlers it is told were driven here by Emperor Aurangzeb who was one of the greatest enemies of the Shia school of thought.
The Ashukhana here has miracle alams of Bibi Zainab and Ali Akbar , that were found miraculously in a rice granary and Bibi Zainabs alam from the house of another Shia Momin family.
There is a small juloos by the locals , head cutting a bit of zanjir , a majlis and finally the fire matam.
To build the fire about 2 ton of wood is used no sea sand like the fire ramps in Mumbai the Alamdars take several rounds on the fire barefeet and than the crowds children join in.
Later the Shia women of the village walk on the same fire ramp , a ritual I was not allowed to shoot by a Shia brat ..though one of the elders had consented I shoot a single frame of a woman in hijab walking on the fire ..most of the women in this village wear the hijab and the niqab.
My purpose was to show you the strength of the Shia women and the piety and their faith through a single picture .
I have walked on fire in many cities including Mumbai Lucknow and HussainTekri.
The fire walk has its origins in Burma and was bought to Lucknow and began at Kazamain by the Nawabs of Chota Imambada than it spread all over India I am told .
I have also shot the Ag Ka Matam at Bada Imambada Kazamain and Diyanudaulah.
Hussain Tekri has an impressive fire ramp but photography is strictly prohibited and after the Shias have walked on it other mentally ill possessed men women walk on it to be holistically healed .This takes place during Chehlum.
The fire walk symbolizes the sufferings of the Fouth Imam and the surviving members of Imam Hussains family that were taken captive by Yazids army made to walk from Karbala to Damascus in the court of Yazid the accursed despot tyrant Caliph of the Umayad Dynasty.
Firstly the fire burns the feet and this is not a trance it is overcoming pain , and many people walk on the fire several times .
The kids too walk though most of the people tend to run that takes away from the austerity of the ritual.
In Mumbai those get severely burnt apply henna to cool the burning feet.
No other medication or ointment is applied as such.
Even those who cut their chests backs heads dont apply medicine or take tetanus shots , it is all part of holistic healing I lose a lot of blood because of my diabetic condition but all is well that ends well .
The 7 Moharam juloos of Chennai I shall post after this lot.. this is a long series too.