Amongst many spiritual/religious rituals, the Dhuni is quite an interesting one which involves singing, fire, sandalwood, ghee, and letting go of personal attachments. This particular post is specifically about Meher Baba’s Dhuni that takes place in Ahmednagar, India and not the Hindu ritual.
“Meher Baba’s Dhuni was first lit on November 10, 1925, when some villagers approached Meher Baba about a severe drought that threatened their crops. Baba told them to return home and ordered his mandali to build a Dhuni. Within minutes of its lighting, rain began to fall. In later years, Meher Baba invited His followers to throw attachments, symbolized by sandalwood sticks, into the fire.
“By Meher Baba’s order, the Dhuni continues to be lit on the 12th of each month at sunset at Lower Meherabad, Ahmednagar, India. According to The Master’s Glossary, the Dhuni fire symbolizes the purifying inner fire of Divine Love.” (source)
To begin, some prayers are said and sung and then the Dhuni fire is lit. People line up and take a piece of sandalwood, and as they approach the fire they dip the sandalwood stick into ghee (clarified butter) and toss it into the fire.
The stick represents an offering of giving up an attachment that they wish to be consumed by the fire. The ritual thus symbolizes surrendering and giving up desires and limitations to God.
In the meantime, bhajans and devotional songs are sung.
Shoes are removed for the ritual.
These pictures were taken during the Amartithi celebration in January which attracts up to 30,000 pilgrims annually in Meherabad, Ahmednagar, India. During the rest of the year on the 12th of each month, people from all over the world come and partake in the consuming of desires in smaller crowds.
For overnight and longer stays, people seek accommodation at the nearby Meher Pilgrim Retreat.
Unlike the Hindu ritual, Meher Baba’s Dhuni is not sectarian, but religiously universal and accessible to those of all religions and sects and also to those with no formal religious affiliations at all.
Doesn’t it look like not only his desires but his body is also being consumed by the fire?
Would you partake in such a ritual? Would you have an interest in giving up some of your desires or attachments?