Atukal Pongala is an annual religious festival held in Kerala, India. The festival is marked as the largest annual gathering of women by the Guinness World Records. The ceremony was set up in the Guinness Book of World Records on February 23, 1997, when 1.5 million women participated. In 2009, a new Guinness World Records celebrated 2.5 million attendance. During this day women prepare a divine food made of rice in earthen pots and offer it to the goddess in the temple. When the signal is being given from the temple, they light the fire to cook the pudding. At that time smoke engulfs the whole place and it is so difficult for them to withstand the heat and smoke. However with their immense devotion they forget the difficulties associated with this and endure the suffering for their belief. I captured this moment with my eyes open & closed as it was difficult for me to withstand the heat and look thru the viewfinder.