The fire-walkers of Vietnam

Thanh Nien News

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A dozen young men jump into a fire in bare feet, dancing on and picking up pieces of burning coals with their hands, all without suffering even a minor injury.
Fire-walking, a traditional festival of the Pa Then ethnic people in Sa Pa, has become a unique event for its dangerous thrills.
 A man dancing in the fire during a fire festival in Sa Pa, Lao Cai Province. Photo credit: Hachi9/VnExpress.
The Pa Then in the northern province of Lao Cai organize a fire-walking feast either on the last day of the year or the first day of the new year, when harsh winter winds force people to gather around large fires in front of their houses.
There is an elaborate worship ritual, lasting hours, just before the fire-walking. During the worship, several shamans offer well-prepared sacrifice trays that have bowls of cooked and uncooked rice, wine, boiled chicken, spring water, incense, votive paper, and candles, and loudly say their prayers for a new year full of health, abundant crops and, the safety of the men who will soon jump into the fire.
 A shaman worshiping during a fire jumping feast in Sa Pa
 An offering tray of the Pa Then ethnic people.
 Fire jumpers prepare for their spirit dance...
...while a fire is lighted. 
Then, when the shamans feel that the gods have accepted their prayers, the fire-walkers, who are seated around the worship tray, start jumping in one after another.

 Two men dance as preparation for a fire jumping session.
On bare feet and in their black traditional suits, the men hop over the fire, shaking their bodies, and suddenly jump into it. Some even pick live coals with their bare hands and put them into their mouth and bite. Some throw the red coals out of the fire, making the crowd step back as if in fright. They dance to the rhythm of traditional instruments like the drums, cymbals and bamboo instruments.
Each man walks on the fire for three or four minutes before jumping out and coming out of their trance, which somehow seems to protect them from burns.
A Pa Then man walking on pieces of burning coal

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