Lets Explore The Traditions Of Agni Keli

Agni Keli is the most unique festival you will find in India. It is performed in the Kateel Durga Parameshwari Temple. This temple is located in Mangalore. Agni Keli is a festival where burning palm fronds are thrown at one another by devotees and this is done to please Goddess Durga. The festival of Agni Keli is celebrated across 8 days in April. The festival begins one night before the Mesha Sankramana Day and there are a number of performances that are themed. The Agni Keli performance is the best performance of them all. When the festival reaches the second night, there are a number of devotees that gather near the Durga temple located in Mangalore. There they indulge in the tradition that involves getting hit by palm fronds on fire and even throwing these fronds at others. This spectacle is watching by thousands of people as this set of devotees tries to set one another on fire.

Agni Keli Rules

There are not many rules when it comes to the traditions of Agni Keli. The few rules that are part of Agni Keli are mentioned below.

  • All devotes that are looking to take part in the Agni Keli celebration will be split into two groups.
  • These groups will stand across each other at a minimum distance of ten to fifteen meters.
  • Both groups will be given a large supply of palm frond torches that are lit.
  • The aim is to throw the torches at the other group and hit as many of them as possible.
  • During the Agni Keli firefight, each person can throw a torch only five times. This makes each shot critical.
  • Men can only wear a piece of cloth around their waist and lower body to prevent burns.
  • In case anyone suffers from any burns, they are immediately sprayed with water.
  • The fire-throwing tradition lasts for only fifteen minutes as each one has only five throws.
  • All spectators watch from a very safe distance to avoid any mishaps.
  • Once five throws are done, the sixth palm frond is thrown away.

Devotion For Agni Keli

All the devotees and the temple heads usually meet at the ghats for a bathing ritual before dawn breaks. The idol of Goddess Durga is decorated in a grand manner before the Agni Keli ritual begins. Once the decoration is complete and the worship of Goddess Durga is complete, all participants gather at an open place and prepare for what is to follow. You will also see referees that are wearing white. These referees ensure that there are no personal attacks on anyone and the ritual is completed without any hassles. Once the firefighting ritual has been completed, all the devotees gather near the temple and throw fire for another five minutes. All the flamethrowers that are injured are sprayed with Kumkumarchane. This is a form of holy water that is used in the worship of Goddess Durga.

Featured Photo: Hindu Goddess Durga by ShaluSharmaBihar under CC BY 2.0

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