|Palani_Murugan (Karthikaya) -Thai pusam pathayatra (waking to the temple barefoot, chanting Lords mantra or names. palani.org|
|A typical kavadi. pixshark.com|
Generally, people take a vow in the name of Lord-Karthikaya by carrying a Kavadi for the sake of tiding over great difficulties or impediments in their lives. On completion of kavadi offer, the devotees who bore the Kavadi get a sense of satisfaction, spiritual elation and awakening of their spiritual well-being. This method of devotion is unique in Hinduism, widely followed in Southern India, in particular, Tamil Nadu. Scientifically this improves one's 'vaigragya' or steadfast commitment, mental prowess and concentration.
Carrying a Kavadi across the shoulder is a solemn vow which People undertake every year, praying for prosperity, free from worries and overall welfare of their families. It is symbolic of humbleness, shedding of ego and deep faith in god. He is expected to be a charitable, humble human being through out his life. So the devotee takes a pledge of abstinence for a certain period of time and travels to Palani barefoot, unmindful of the vagaries of weather. He should lead a life of simplicity and humbleness without ego during this time, making him a good human being.
The Kavadi, which is some thing like a small yoke carried across the shoulder, comes in different shapes and sizes, from the simple one commonly used by hawkers (a wooden stick with two baskets at each end, slung across the shoulder) to the costly palanquin-type structure, profusely bedecked with flowers frequently interwoven with peacock feathers. Peacock is the favorite mount of Lord Muruga. The kavadi can be taken for a rent in the various Kavadi shops at Adivaram - entrance to the hill temple at the bottom.
The two small baskets hanging at each end of the Kavadi contain sandal wood paste - Chandanam, milk, rose water, tender coconut water, bhasmam, Sesame oil (Nallaennai), etc that the devotees have vowed to offer the Lord.
Among the kavadi bearers, the orthodox devotee among them, and especially those who do it as a ''Sadhana'', collect these articles by begging (Bhiksha in Sanskrit). They travel on foot from village to village, and beg from door to door. People never hesitate to offer them any of the above items.
Some devotees undertake padayatra - walking barefoot from home to one of the shrines of Lord Subramanya, bearing the Kavadi all the way and collecting materials for the offering. Thousands of people in groups undertake this devotional padayatra, covering more than 100 kilometers. Walking barefoot in a hot tropical place like Tamil Nadu is a strenuous one and requires robust body and mind, besides endurance. While walking people drink lot of salted buttermilk or coconut water to avoid dehydration and fatigue. They halt for the night after 7PM and resume their journey in the early morning after taking bath, doing prayer, etc.
The Kavadi bearer has to strictly observe various rules while under taking Kavadi offer - between the start of the Kavadi journey, and the day of the offering. He has to perform elaborate ceremonies at the time of assuming the Kavadi, and at the time of offering it to the Lord.
He wears a saffron - colored cloth and carries a conical scarlet cap and a cane silver-capped at both ends. Strict observance of silence and celibacy, abstain from non-vegetarian food and intoxicating drinks is a must.
Some of the Kavadi bearers, go one step farther and engage in higher level of spiritual Sadhana with vairgaya (determination).
|Palani Pathayathirai.Palani temple, Tamil Nadu, India sivatravelogue.blogspot.com|
The Kavadi - bearers enjoy doing this kind of sadhana with religious fervor and devotional ecstasy. It is true that this rigorous religious undertaking boosts their confidence level and trust that are essential for man's success.