Feet on scorching asphalt. A replica of the Vel, piercing cheek and tongue so that one is unable to speak, yet is imbued with powers of endurance. Sheer metal spikes incising bare skin pulled to its maximum elasticity, as the devotee, physically tethered to the vette mulle (a decorated chariot), drags it along. These acts symbolise debt bondage. He must complete a four-kilometre processional march, with the sun beating down on him, his body feeling a thousand bites of the spears and skewers. Each step is a long, seemingly impossible trudge. The buoyant chants, sung by his loved ones and companions, distracts him from the fatigue.
At the mid-point of the procession route where the physical toll climbs to its peak, the devotees gather in pairs or trios, and as if inspirited by a disembodied power, begin to dance fervently. There is a spring in his step, and then a leap. And many successive spins. Where they get this surge of energy from, I do not know.