The ritual of Dondi near Kolkata, India can look pretty startling to those who are not familiar with the process. It's a very ancient tradition that's meant to ask for the blessing of the Hindu goddess Shitala and give thanks to her. The experience is very intense. Everyone participating begins by going into the Holy Ganges River. When they emerge they lie face down on the pavement along the path that leads to the temple of Shitala. Then they get up, walk a few feet, and lie face down again.
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This process is repeated down the mile long road to the temple, complete with high traffic areas in some places. Dondi always takes place in April when it's usually very hot in India. The city normally has to arrange for the road to be sprayed down with water beforehand so that those performing the ritual don't get burned from the hot asphalt.
The juxtaposition of hot asphalt and cool water is a way of honoring Shitala in and of itself. Shitala is known as "the one who cools" and it's believed she cures children of burning fevers and bestows fertility on women who are trying to conceive. This is why so many mothers and children perform the ritual of Dondi together. They're giving thanks to Shitala for the existence of the children.
The whole ordeal culminates with a fire ritual when the participants reach the temple at the end. Again, this is something that can be difficult for foreigners, particularly westerners, to watch. It's hard to understand why these Hindus choose to put themselves through such an intense and painful ritual.
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Read more about the Dondi Ritual:
Om Ashram: The Day of Shitala Devi