Complete Party Planning...Walking barefoot over red-hot stones

Silently, the file of barefoot men and boys the oldest nearly 60, the youngest eight emerged from the hut. Still in silence they walked to a pit full of stones, where a log fire had been burning for many hours. The embers had been raked away, but heat haze still shimmered over the pit. Without a pause they walked unhurriedly across the stones and out the other side.

The temperature in the pit was about 1200°F (650°C). Yet their feet were unharmed.
It is a feat often performed on the Fijian island of Mbengga, whose firewalkers are world famous. Similar rituals are practised in India and Sri Lanka and by the Greek sect of Anastenaria. They have been reported in South America and Surinam, and the tiny Pacific island of Rarotonga. In Hawaii, hot lava has been used instead of stones or hot coals. Firewalking has also taken place in the USA and Europe.

In Fiji, India, Sri Lanka and Greece the ritual is associated with religious ceremonial. Firewalkers of the Western world usually prepare by psychological training. All maintain that a particular state of mind is the key to remaining unharmed. Unlucky aspirants who suffer burns are often deemed to be mentally unprepared.

In Fiji, preparation includes avoiding the company of women during the days beforehand, and no firewalker should try it if his wife is pregnant.

Scientists tend to discount the 'mind over matter' theory. They suggest that walking over damp grass beforehand, which some firewalkers do, provides temporary protection through a phenomenon that accounts for the surprising amount of time that a drop of water bounces over a hot griddle before evaporating. The bottom of the drop vaporises, providing a brief insulation of vapour between the drop and the griddle. The dampness of the firewalkers' feet could have a similar effect.

Scientists also think the stones used in Fiji and elsewhere - and the coals used in the West - give off heat relatively slowly.

But most are convinced that, whatever the reason for the firewalkers' apparent immunity, it can be dangerous.

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