Udappu fishing village, Chilaw District, Sri Lanka

"Like walking on a bed of flowers"

chief priest of the Udappu Draupati Amman temple, Manivasa Gurukal

The swami, or chief priest of the temple, named Manivasa Gurukal, explained that fire walking is held on the last day of the festival to cleanse the village of evil.

In preparation for this, devotees observe a vegetarian regimen for 18 days, and the four corners of the village are blessed.

Unlike at the more famous fire-walking festival at Kataragama, women who have come of age do not cross the fire at Udappuwa.

The swami asserted that he felt no pain whatsoever when he walked over the fire.

"It is like walking on a bed of flowers," he said with a smile. "One must have faith and be clean. If a man is not clean, then it will affect him."