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Religious ceremony that involves walking across hot coals, red-hot stones, or burning wood. It has been practiced in many parts of the world, including ancient Greece, India, Japan, China, Tahiti, New Zealand, Bulgaria, and Spain. The most common form of fire walking involves striding across a layer of embers spread thinly over the bottom of a shallow trench. More rarely, devotees may walk through a blazing log fire. The reasons for fire walking include purification and as an ordeal to prove innocence. Devotees believe that only those who lack faith will be burned, and many fire walkers do escape without injury.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on fire walking, visit Britannica.com.
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