Lairai Temple, Goa
In the village of Shirgao in Bicholim taluka lies the temple of Goddess Lairai. The temple of Shree Lairai is located at a distance of 2 kms. from the Panaji - Valpoi Highway. The deity Lairai is famous all over Goa for the Shirigao zatra. Every year thousands of devotees attend annual feast of deity to witness the walking of devotees of the deity, known as 'dhond' barefooted through the sacred fire known as Homkunda. A mud road leads to the temple and passes through many iron ore mines along the way.
The Shirgao Jatra takes place in early part of May. The festival begins early in the morning and continues throughout till dawn. The devotees (dhond) take a bath and walk all the way uphill to the temple to worship the Goddess. Late into the night, as midnight approaches, the devotees perform a frantic dance inside the temple, which is all lit up for the occasion. The dance sessions end around midnight. Next a fire is made using a huge pile of wood kept in a large clearing near the temple.
The final and most spectacular part of the jatra then begins.In the early hours of the morning when the fire has died down, the raking of the coals begins. The devotees await their turn to walk on the holy path of hot coals. Around 4 a.m., the actual ritual starts, with the devotees running through the hot coals carrying their sticks with the name of Devi Lairai. It is said that the fire does no harm to the just devotees who walk calmly through the embers. The unjust are said to hurry through running through the burning coals.