MANGALURU: In line with an age-old tradition, hundreds of devotees hurled burning palm fronds at each other while paying reverence to goddess Durga at a temple here in Kateel town.
Bare-chested and dhoti clad men threw burning fronds at each other in the unique centuries-old fire-fighting ritual, 'Agni Kheli', to appease the goddess at Durgaparameshwari Temple in the town situated around 30 kilometres from here.
The ritual of "Thoothedhara" or "Agni Kheli" takes place every year in the month of April as part of the grand festival at the temple that continues for eight consecutive days. As per the ritual, the men are divided into two groups, facing one another, and they throw burning palm fronds at each other from a distance.
Each man is permitted to throw five burning fronds to hit as many people in the group. Situated on an islet in the middle of the river Nandini, Durgaparameshwari Temple is one of the oldest temples in Kateel in the Dakshina Kannada district of Karnataka.