Just one phone call started her thinking how important toes are to one's anatomy and uprightness. Her daughter, who has the most petite and pretty feet in the family had met with disaster when she decided to treat herself to a home spa treatment. Unaware that Drain O residue was still in the bathtub, she placed her feet inside, anticipating sheer bliss. BLISS turned to BLISTERS! second degree chemical burns. The recovery has been slow, and painfully prolonged. This school teacher learned her own lesson: "Always rinse out the tub before using."
Feeling great empathy for her daughter's predicament, in a moment of stillness and reflection she recalled attending the Theemithi India Festival at the Hindu Sri Srinivasa Perumel Temple in Singapore. This is a festival that her western friends would call Fire Walking.
This is a serious evening of devotion and penance as Hindu men clad in saffron colored garments line up for miles and miles. Patiently they wait, meditate and pray in preparation for their turn to cross the long bed of burning hot coals. They are here to prove their innocence with a ritualized form of repentance by walking the coals unscathed.
The interior of the temple is densely filled with breathtaking altars to their Deities. For this special day the altars are festooned in mountains of flowers, especially Marigolds, the color of saffron.
Women and children cluster in friendship and kinship adorned in their richly colored saris, visiting, singing, like a church gathering one would find anyplace in the world. Shrouding all is the presence of reverence and devotion.
Children finally succumb to the all night festivities.
(She told me that this was one of her favorite photographs and soon to be the basis of a painting. Hope she shares it.)
All who enter the hallowed ground of this temple must leave their shoes outside the walls. Mounds of shoes surround the temple like waves upon the shore. She, too, walked barefoot through the crushed flowers, feeling the ancient stones beneath her feet. She thought about who had walked these stones before her, with what were their daily lives filled: customs, cultural upbringing, devotion to family, happiness, simpleness, richness of life's blessings and a living belief in their personal Deities. She left the temple a better person than when she had arrived.
And yes, all who visited that night left with feet of a particular saffron color.
The photographs were taken by Sharon Furner and her photography friend Cheryl Bikman. Visit Cheryl's website, Awaiting Winter, on the side bar of this blog. She is an amazing photographer. Having just had a baby, her photographs of Lizzie are absolutely stunning.