Skip to content

Thai Pusam 2014 From pvvg swamy

January 25, 2014

Thai Pusam 2014
  on Friday, 17-01-2014
Thai Pusam
unnamed (1)

Thaipusam a festival to beseech the Grace of Lord Murugan

Thai Pusam is a festival to celebrate two important events in Hindu mythology. The first is the anniversary when Lord Murugan received the Vel from His Mother, Goddess Parvati. The second event is the day that God Shiva danced the ananda tandava and revealed His form of Nataraja to the devas, sages and priests gathered at the hallowed Shiva temple of Chidambaram in Tamilnadu. Thus Thaipusam is celebrated in both Sivan and Murugan temples, though Thaipusam is more popular as a Murugan festival. Thaipusam is a one day festival which usually falls on the last week of January or beginning of February.

unnamed (2)

Lord Natatraja’s Dance of Bliss being witnessed by inhabitants of the Heavens and Earth in Chidambaram.

The Vel that Lord Murugan received from his Mother is a symbol of purification. According to the myth, the Vel was given to Lord Murugan to vanquish three asuras that were terrorizing Earth and the Heavens at the time. The asuras were Surapadman, Singamugan and Tarakasura. The three of them represent the forces of fear, hatred, greed and arrogance. The Vel, a symbol of light and wisdom was used by Lord Murugan to rid the world of the three asuras and bring peace and balance back to the Heavens and Earth. Thus the Vel is the protecting and purifying force of Lord Murugan and Thaipusam is a celebration of these forces. It is a time to beseech Lord Murugan’s blessing to lessen the burden of bad karmas from our wrong doings and to make our lives more positive. Thus the Thaipusam is a festival that is marked by acts of penance such as carrying the kavadi.

unnamed (3)

Lord Murugan and His Vel. Thaipusam is especially dedicated to the issuance of the Vel to Lord Murugan.

Carrying kavadi is a practice of penance or prayaschittam. The tradition of carrying kavadi was started by a great devotee of Lord Muruga, Idumban, who worshipped Lord Murugan at the Palani Hills temple in Tamilnadu. He created the first kavadi. It was a simple structure that consisted of a straight horizontal branch of a tree with two small pots of milk tied at either end and decorated by a wooden arch, flowers and peacock’s tail feathers. Idumban also pierced a small vel shaped skewer across his cheeks. Idumban carried the kavadi from the foothills of Palani to Lord Murugan’s Palani Andavan temple at the summit of the hills and offered the milk for Lord Palani’s (the form of Lord Murugan as a renunciate monk) abishegam.

unnamed (4)

A simple traditional kavadi carried by a boy. Children may also participate in carrying kavadi, however, they are only allowed to pierce their body when they are older, usually when they become teenagers. unnamed (5)

Notice the small pot of milk tied to the right of the kavadi bearer. Piercings through the cheeks and tongue with Vel shaped shaped skewers is common among kavadi bearers, though it is optional and not a requirement for carrying kavadi.

Since those ancient times, the forms of kavadi have become more elaborate. During Thaipusam these days devotees can be seen carrying kavadis as simple as a pot of milk balanced on their heads to elaborate structures rising up to two meters above the head with multiple body piercings. Devotees carrying kavadi usually wear yellow garments. Yellow colour symbolizes purification.

unnamed (6)

Carrying kumbhas of milk for Lord Murugan at Batu Caves, Malaysia during Thaipusam.

unnamed (7)

An extreme kavadi, this is called the paravai kavadi or the bird kavadi, Nallur Kandaswami Temple, Jaffna, Sri Lanka. unnamed (8)
Fire pot kavadi, Nallur Kandaswami Temple, Jaffna, Sri Lanka. unnamed (9)

Anga pradakshina, rolling around the temple grounds is another form of penance performed during Thaipusam. Nallur Kandaswami Temple, Jaffna, Sri Lanka.

Devotees participating in Thaipusam, especially if they are carrying kavadi, prepare for the festival anywhere between one month to nine days before the festival. These preparations can include:

• Performing daily prayers at home to Lord Murugan,
• Chanting devotional hymns such as the Skanda Puranam or doing japa on Lord Murugan’s mantra Aum Saravanabhavaya Namaha (the mantra is chanted 108 times daily after prayers on a rosary of rudraksha beads),
• Fast or abstain from non vegetarian food,
• Not cut their hair nor shave and abstain from carnal pleasures.
• Sleep on the floor (without a mattress).

Men who carry kavadi usually shave their heads bald on Thaipusam day. The type and severity of the kavadi carried and the preparations before Thaipusam the devotee does is left to the devotee. Apart from pure devotional motivation, the preparations done and the type of kavadi carried may depend on the severity of guilt or troubles the devotee may be feeling or going through. If unsure of what type of preparations to perform or kavadi to carry a devotee can seek the counsel of a qualified temple priest or a Hindu guru.

Questions and Answers on Thaipusam
Question: Must I carry kavadi to celebrate Thaipusam?
Answer: No it is not necessary to carry kavadi to celebrate Thaipusam. To celebrate Thaipusam all one needs to do is to attend special prayers performed in temples to Lord Murugan on Thaipusam day and offer thanks to Him. To observe Thaipusam you can also perform special prayers to Lord Murugan at home, meditate on Lord Murugan and be a vegetarian on this day, if you are not one already.

Question: Is it required to pierce the body to carry kavadi? It seems barbaric. Does Lord Murugan ask this of us?
Answer: No, it is not required to pierce the body to carry kavadi nor does Lord Murugan require us to do so. Remember that the practice of taking kavadi is a penance. It is not meant as an external show of devotion. Rather, taking kavadi is a very personal rite of purification. Kavadi is performed to lessen the burden of bad karmas we may have created. In certain situations some devotees may feel a deep sense of guilt for wrong doings they have done. They may feel the need to take on hardships such as piercing their body to assuage the feeling of guilt. However it is best to seek the counsel of knowledgeable spiritual people such as gurus or qualified temple priests before taking the more extreme kavadis. Kavadi is a very intimate act in the relationship between the devotee and Lord Murugan. It must be approached with devotion and in all humility. It is not a means of showing off ones abilities, nor should people compete with each other in creating heavier or taller kavadis with more body piercings. There is absolutely no merit in taking kavadi for these reasons.


From → Articles

Leave a Comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: