Udappu fishing village, Chilaw District, Sri Lanka

Udappu traditional fishing community

View Larger Map of Udappu, Sri Lanka

Udappu (Tamil: உடப்பு) is a traditional Tamil fishing village situated 65 miles and two hours north of Colombo, Sri Lanka. The people of Udappu are Hindu Karawa of South Indian origin, whose culture and lifestyle are altogether different from other people engaged in deep-sea fishing living along the coast of Chilaw District.

In the Tamil month of Avani (the latter half of July and the first part of August in the English calendar), is an 18-day festival that commences with the Divajarohanam (flag hoisting) and ends with fire walking in front of the Udappu's central Draupadi Amman Temple.

The 18-day period is spent in prayer and fasting, with a priest reciting the Mahabharata epic to remind everyone of the story of Draupadi, the five Pandava brothers' common wife, whose chaste and virtuous ways enabled her to recover the kingdom they been deprived of by wicked King Duryodhana.

The Draupadi Festival Sri Lanka's Living Heritage networkcomes to a spectacular conclusion on the final evening when the entire male population of Udappu walk barefoot over a bed of red hot coals without injury, to the astonishment of all present.