Thousands drawn to faith and flame at Navratri Festival (PHOTO ESSAY)

 

Thousands upon thousands swarmed the capital’s Bang Rak district for what seemed the biggest, loudest, burniest Navratri Festival yet. Along Naradhiwas, Sathon, Silom and Surasak roads near the Sri Mahamariamman temple, hundreds of shrines competed for space and attention, and by midnight the streets ran slick with the vital essence of thousands of coconuts ritualistically smashed.

The festival, which has long since outgrown the confines of Pan Road, features shrines sponsored by businesses, organizations and private parties along a parade route lined by kneeling supplicants five rows deep. Spiritual guides at many shrines offered themselves as divine vessels, to dance, scream, gyrate and handle living flame in a state of trance ecstasy for the spiritual sake of those gathered. — Todd Ruiz

 

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