The atmosphere is thrilling and the energy is buzzing with tribal notes of music floating. The men with grotesque piercings of steel spears and hooks pull onto decorated ‘Cavadees’ and vehicles even as the women silently march and dance on ecstatic about their affection for Lord Muruga. These are the scenes you witness when you visit Cavadee festival in Mauritius. The festival is observed in the tenth month of the Hindu Calender when the ‘Poosam’ or the star is at its highest. The festival is celebrated sometime around 21st January every year. Here’s a short guide about what the festival of Cavadee is and how it is celebrated.
Cavadee Festival In Mauritius: Historical Significance
The festival is dedicated to Lord Muruga and is celebrated world over wherever Tamil Hindus have been settled. This includes destinations like Malaysia, Singapore, USA, and the Caribbean. The Cavadee festival in Mauritius is a government and bank holiday, and everyone respects the culture of the ethnic Tamils. This festival is as much about penance and recognizing the burden of humanity as well as celebration. All the rituals have deep meaning to the devotees and it is a great moment to understand the life and culture of Indians in Mauritius.
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What Happens During The Cavadee Festival In Mauritius
If you are wondering how is Cavadee celebrated in Mauritius then here is a sneak peek at all the festivities and customs that are followed during the festival:
1. Ten days of fasting and penance
The Sittirai Cavadee in Mauritius begins like any other Thaipusam festival in India. It starts with ten days of piousness, and the worshippers also have a custom tied to it, the flag hoisting or the Kodi Etram. The flag is tied in temples and is a declaration of the ten-day Cavadee festival when everybody is praying, fasting and eating vegetarian food.
2. The night before D-Day
The main highlight of the event is the Cavadee, which is a wooden structure with an arch that is decorated by the devotees. Each cavadee is different and is decorated with flowers, coconut leaves, peacock feathers and is tied with pots of milk. Some of the cavadees are more elaborate and bigger. Since the devotee has to bear the burden of the cavadee, the bigger cavadees are often dragged with their bodies by the ‘vels’ or tiny spears and hooks!
3. The D-Day
The day of Cavadee festival is a big pompous celebration, and you can see the streets lined up with devotees in bright pink and saffron clothes. The men are sighted carrying their cavadees with steel spears and hooks attached to their bodies. The women and young girls carry pots of milk, and some of the more courageous ones also pierce spears in their mouths. And then those who do not pierce their mouths cover their mouths with a scarf to showcase resilience.
4. The celebrations begin
After a ceremony on the banks of a river or the beach where a priest officiates the ceremony, the devotees then go to temples and relieve themselves of the cavadees. The devotees then celebrate with a vegetarian feast that is called as ‘prasadam’ and eaten on banana leaves. This marks the end of the festival. It goes without saying that the best time to visit Mauritius is during Cavadee festival.
Myth Surrounding Cavadee Festival In Mauritius
The Cavadee festival in Mauritius is based on an ancient Tamil myth about a robber Idumban. His guru Agathiyar orders him to get two mountain peaks and tie them each on one side of a cavadee and bring them to him. When Idumban is bringing the mountains, he realizes one side is very high and finds Lord Muruga in disguise. He doesn’t recognize the Lord and picks up a fight with him. Lord Muruga gets angry and kills him with a vel or a spear. Seeing Idumban dead, Agathiyar and his followers pray to Lord Muruga to resurrect him. They speak highly about his piousness, and that’s when Lord Muruga brings him back to life. To please him, it was decided that any believer who carries a cavadee to Lord Muruga will have their wishes fulfilled.
The Cavadee Festival in Mauritius is one of the biggest festivals in the country and is celebrated by all the Tamil Hindus who have settled there. It is one of the best times to visit the country as you can experience not just the natural beauty but also the ethnic diversity and culture of the Mauritians. Book a trip to Mauritius at once to witness a festival that tests the endurance of humans and their faith.
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