Thaipusam Festival of Tamil Nadu
Thaipusam is one of the famous festivals celebrated in Tamil Nadu. Generally, the festival falls in the Tamil month of Thai (January/February). So the festival named as the Thaipusam or Thaipoosam. The Festival celebrates not only in Tamil Nadu but also in the places where the Tamil people lived. Such are Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Mauritius, South Africa, Singapore and other places where the Tamil People live.
Thaipusam is the word which combined the name of the month, Thai and the name of the star Pusam. In the Tamil Language, Pusam is a star which reaches on its highest point during the festival. Generally, the festival celebrates on the birth anniversary of Murugan, the son of Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvathi. There is also another story that on this day, Goddess Parvathi gave a Vel (spear) to Murugan to defeat the evil demon Soorapadman.
Origin of the Thaipusam Festival
There are many stories about the celebration of the Thaipusam. According to the Tamil tradition, the Asuras and the Devas have been fighting between each other and continued the battles one after another. When the Asuras defeat the Devas, again the Devas defeat the Asuras. This continued and finally, the Asura forces became the rulers of the heaven. Then the defeated Devas approached to Lord Shiva and prayed Him to give them an able heroic leader to lead the army to defeat Asuras. Lord Shiva understand the anguished plea of the Devas, appeased their prayers and granted the requests of the Devas.
Then he created a mighty warrior from his own power and named Skanda. As soon as the creation of Skanda, he assumed the leadership of the Devas, started invaded the Asura forces and defeated them. Since then the day of the creating the warrior Skanda celebrate as Thaipusam Festival. Symbolically, the devotees believe that the prayers on the festival day made Murugan vanquish the evil and give strength to overcome the obstacles in the life. So the motive of the prayer to God Murugan to give grace to all the members of the family.
Kavadi Attam – Interesting Ritual
Kavadi Attam means the Burden Dance. This dance is a ceremony during the festival day, the devotees make themselves a physical burden in order to worship of Murugan. They believe that this physical burden made appease Murugan and receive help from Him to overcome all the burdens which they face in life.
Before the Kavadi Attam celebration, the devotees perform the prayers and took fasting for 48 days. The participate devotees in Kavadi Attam observe celibacy and eat only certain type of food items, which called Satvik food. They took food only once in a day and chant the pious names of God. The devotees shave their heads and start the long pilgrimage along a set route on the festival day. During their pilgrimage, they carry various varieties of decorated Kavadis. The attracting procession during the Kavadi bearing. The devotee’s mortification of the body by piercing the tongue, cheeks or skin with skewers. This is a common ritual during the festival celebrations in the way to appease Lord Murugan to overthrow the hurdles in their life.