A religious festival of purification, Thaïpoosam Cavadee is celebrated by the Tamil community. It takes place in January or early February and marks the end of ten days of sacrifice, fasting and abstinence to purify body and soul.
This celebration pays homage to the god Muruga, the last son of Shiva and Shakti. He is the god of love, youth, beauty and compassion. Legend has it that the sage Agattyâr ordered Idumban to bring him the two peaks of Mount Kaïlash. On his way, Idumban met Muruga and they fought. Muruga pierced Idumban with his spear, but was so impressed by his bravery that he brought him back to life. Muruga then declared that anyone who showed the same determination would receive his blessing. His Vel, the spear with which he defeated evil, is symbolised by the needles with which the faithful pierce themselves, and the Cavadee, a wooden and bamboo structure, symbolises Idemban’s journey, carrying the two peaks of the mountain on a stick;
For the celebration, the Cavadee is decorated with peacock feathers, religious statuettes, fruit and flowers, and containers of milk are hung from the structure. On the day of the festival, pilgrims go to the temple and then set off in procession to the nearest watering hole to take a sacred bath. The devotees who wear the Cavadee are those who want to atone for their sins through suffering, or those who want to show their fervour for the god Muruga. They pierce their cheeks, tongues or backs with needles or hooks to obtain forgiveness and purification. After the sacred bath, the pilgrims walk through the village praying, singing and dancing, entering into a kind of trance;
The custom is to end the day by sharing a vegetarian dish, Arusuvai, which includes salty, bitter, sour, acidic and sweet flavours to remind us that life, although made up of ups and downs, can be harmonious;
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