Typooyam & Kavadi
A festival occurring in the Malayalam month Makaram (January-February), the day of the star Pooyam around Pournami (Full Moon) is celebrated as Thypooyam. There was a demon named Tharakasuran who was troubling the Rishis and Saints. Lord Muruga was called by his parents Lord Shiva and Parvati and given the job of destroying the asuran. Lord Muruga set off with the blessings of his parents, to destroy the demon. He carried twelve weapons, eleven of which were given by his father Lord Shiva and the 'Vel' given by his mother Parvati. Lord Muruga destroyed Tharakasuran on the Pooyam Nakshatram day in the Tamil month of Thai and hence Thypooyam is celebrated in all Murugan temples.
Generally, people take a vow to offer the Lord a Kavadi for the sake of tiding over a great calamity. No doubt, the worldly object is achieved for the devotee who takes the Kavadi. After the ceremony he fells that his inner spiritual being gets awakened. This is also a method that ultimately leads to the supreme state of devotion.
The Kavadi has various shapes and sizes, from the simple shape of a hawker's storehouse (a wooden stick with two baskets at each end, slung across the shoulder) to the costly palanquin structure, profusely flower-bedecked and decoratively interwoven with peacock feathers
The two baskets hanging at each end of the Kavadi contain milk, rose water, chandanam, tender coconut water, bhasmam, Sesame oil(Enna)etc that the devotee has vowed to offer the Lord. The more devout among them, and especially those who do it as a Sadhana, collect these articles by begging (bhiksha). They travel on foot from village to village, and beg from door to door. The devotees conduct pooja for Idumban before starting the bhiksha
Some keen devotees undertake to walk barefoot from home to one of the shrines of Lord Subramanya, bearing the Kavadi all the way and collecting materials for the offering.
The Kavadi-bearer is required to observe various rules between the time he takes up the Kavadi, 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 saffron-coloured cloth and carry a conical scarlet cap and a cane silver-capped at both ends. The Kavadi-bearer very often observes silence. He observes strict celibacy. Only pure, vegetarian food is taken; he abstains from all sorts of intoxicating drinks and drugs. He thinks of God all the time.
Many of the Kavadi-bearers, especially those who do it as a spiritual Sadhana, impose various forms of self-torture. Some pass a sharp little spear (“vels”) through their tongue, which is made to protrude out of the mouth. Others may pass a spear through the cheek. This sort of piercing is done in other parts of the body also. The vels represent the spear of Lord Muruga that killed Idumban. Lemons are pierced and hanged from the “vels”. The acid juice of lemons and bhasma spread over the pierced flesh cures bleeding.
The Kavadi-bearer enjoys a high state of religious fervour. His very appearance is awe-inspiring; there is divine radiance on his face. Devotees often experience the state of feeling united with the Lord.