India is a land of ancient culture, with practices that date back thousands of years. It is hard to trace the origins of any particular ritual, let alone remember the significance behind them. With no logical explanation available, several Indian practices seem superstitious and sometimes even a tad foolish. However, this does not deter the people of India from participating in religious and cultural celebrations with gusto.
One such example is the festival of the nine evenings, Navaratri (Nava=9, Ratri=Evening), celebrated every year in the month of October. Dedicated to different versions of the Goddess, all 9 days are filled with festivities, good food, music, dance and religious ceremonies across the country. Living in India, watching the Navaratri for me is a part of normal life. But then I heard about this man who is certainly unusual, even for Indian standards. Every year, during Navaratri, he bathes with pots of boiling milk. And he comes out of the experience, unscathed.
The holy city of Varanasi is home to the 80-year-old man with an iron hide. The famous Durga temple of Varanasi, where he is a priest, sets the scene for his yearly ritual. On the first day of Navaratri, all the townsfolk gather at the temple to watch him perform the unbelievable. Nine earthen pots are decorated especially for the occasion, filled with milk, and placed on primitive stone furnaces. Once the milk boils, the priest pours one pot after another over his head and all over his body. The ease with which he carries out the activity makes it all the more incredible. In the end, there isn’t so much as a scar on his skin.
While there can be almost no medical explanation as to how he escapes burn injuries, the people of Varanasi believe it to be a blessing and a miracle performed by the Goddess Durga herself. Because not only does he bathe with the boiling milk, he later makes offerings of Puris (a deep fried flat bread) to the Deity by taking them right out of the hot oil with his bare hands. Again, the priest is unharmed. “It is the blessing of the Goddess that doesn’t allow me to burn. People may call it superstition, but when the Goddess challenges my faith, I must respond,” says the old priest. He may be right, after all, they do say that faith can move mountains.
via Yahoo India