A video from a documentary showing a Hindu priest lying on a burning pyre emerge seemingly uninjured, is being shared with a false claim that the clip is from a BBC news report about 400 sadhus offering their bodies to the fire god during the 2021 Kumbh Mela in Haridwar, Uttarakhand.
The 3 minutes video is being shared with the caption, "While covering the Kumbh Mela, a BBC Team saw about 400 Sadhus offering their body to Agni Devata before Kumbh Snan. They took a Video of the occasion. The BBC camera team had to go far away from the flames due to the intense heat generated from burning wood..."
The video is also being shared with the same misleading caption on Facebook by several users.
BOOM found that the viral video has been taken from a documentary film - 'The fire yogi : a story of an extraordinary journey', on an unusual fire ritual performed by Yogi Rambhau Swami from Tamil Nadu.
Breaking the viral video into key-frames and running a reverse image search on each one of them gave us search results for a YouTube video uploaded in March 2011 that had the same visuals as the viral video. The 9 minutes video was titled 'The fire yogi".
Taking a hint from this, we searched with the keyword 'The fire yogi' on YouTube and found the complete 46 minutes documentary uploaded in November 2011. At the 20 minutes timestamp, the same visuals can be seen as in the viral video.
Taking hints from the documentary and searching on Google, we found a description about it on WorldCat which states, "This documentary describes a rare and unusual fire ritual performed by Yogi Rambhau swami and the subsequent chemical analysis of his clothing and physical tests to look into this supernatural phenomenon. The 63-year-old yogi has performed this fire ritual for over 1000 days during the last 45 years. Using a unique breathing technique, the yogi is able to get into union with the fire. For the last 26 years, he consumes only two bananas and a mere glass of milk twice a day...."
We also found that the DVD of the same documentary is being sold on Amazon which describes that it was directed by Mike Vasan and is 47 minutes long. Amazon lists the DVD release date as October 16, 2007.
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Times Of India in a report dated November 17, 2009, had also reported on the fire ritual performed by Yogi Rambhau Swami, adding that doctors, psychologists and rationalists are dismissive of the incident, believing it to be an 'illusion'.
BOOM could not independently ascertain the fire ritual, however, the claim that a BBC News crew shot the viral video showing 400 sadhus offering their bodies up to fire during the Kumbh Mela 2021 is false.
We also reached out via email to the BBC, the article will be updated upon receiving a response.
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