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 is named the Thaipusam or Thaipoosam. The Festival celebrates not only in Tamil Nadu but also in the places where the Tamil people live. Such are Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Mauritius, South Africa, Singapore and other places where the Tamil People live.
Thaipusam is the word that combines the name of the month, Thai and the name of the star Pusam. In the Tamil Language, Pusam is a star that reaches its highest point during the Festival. Generally, the Festival celebrates 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 each other and continuing 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 heaven. Then the defeated Devas approached Lord Shiva and prayed to Him to give them an able heroic leader to lead the army to defeat Asuras. Lord Shiva understood the anguished plea of the Devas, appeased their prayers and granted the requests of the Devas.
Then he created a mighty warrior from his power and named Skanda. As soon as Skanda was completed, he assumed the leadership of the Devas, started to invade the Asura forces and defeated them. Since then, on the day of the creation, the warrior Skanda has celebrated as Thaipusam Festival. Symbolically, the devotees believe that the prayers on the festival day made Murugan vanquish evil and gave them strength to overcome the obstacles in life. So the motive of the devotion to God Murugan is to give grace to all family members.
Kavadi Attam – Interesting Ritual
Kavadi Attam means the Burden Dance. This dance is a ceremony during the festival day; the devotees are physically burdened with worshipping Murugan. They believe that this physical burden appeased Murugan and received help from Him to overcome all the hurdles they faced.
Before the Kavadi Attam celebration, the devotees performed prayers and took fasting for 48 days. The participating devotees in Kavadi Attam observe celibacy and eat only certain types of food items, which are called Satvik food. They took food only once a day and chanted the holy names of God. The devotees shave their heads and start the long pilgrimage along a set route on the festival day. During their voyage, 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 familiar ritual during the festival celebrations to appease Lord Murugan and overthrow the hurdles in their life.