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Adoration to Lord Murugan


Full moon - this is auspicious in itself, but the full moon in the Tamil month of Thai is a very auspicious day with a significant Hindu festival. I experienced this festival in 1994 and it was the most impressive thing I had ever seen in my life. More than that, I was part of the celebrations, right in the middle, for three days and three nights. I will never forget the smell of fire and camphor, as well as the incessantly chanted prayers and mantras, the courage but sometimes the weakness of the devotees. I will never forget the eyes of the devotees.

On the one hand, the festival commemorates the birthday of Lord Murugan (Skanda), the youngest son of Shiva and Parvati. He is the brother of my beloved Ganesha. On the other hand, the festival commemorates the handing over of a lance from Parvati to Murugan so that he might defeat the demon (Rakshasa) Surapadman. The myth says: During the struggle between the demons and the heavenly devas (gods), the devas were always defeated, unable to withstand the forces of the underworld. In desperation they turned to Shiva, imploring him to provide them with a capable leader under whose heroic leadership they might yet win victory. The merciful God granted their wish by creating the mighty, divine warrior Murugan (Skanda). He took control of the heavenly forces and defeated the demons.

Murugan (Skanda) is the embodiment of Shiva's light and wisdom and devotees pray to him to overcome the obstacles (not just Ganesha!) they face as he is the divine slayer of evil. The motive of the Thaipusam festival is to pray to God to receive his mercy so that bad qualities will be destroyed.

At the festival, sacred, ritual dances take place, such as the "Kavadi dance". It is more reminiscent of a devotional sacrifice through dance, food offerings, and physical self-mortification. The kavadi is a semi-circular ornate canopy supported by a wooden pole which the pilgrim carries on his shoulders to the temple. The devotee makes the pilgrimage barefoot and brings food offerings on the kavadi. Depending on the location of the temple, this pilgrimage to the temple can take more than a week. I also saw women curled up to the temple! Some devotees carried loads of fruit on their bodies, not in pockets or anything, but all fastened with hooks in their flesh. Some were tortured with endless ropes and hooks. Some had their cheeks or tongues pierced with small or even large spears. As I said at the beginning, unforgettable for me in my whole life. But there were also devotees who "only" carried a pot of milk to the temple. However, this milk later has a special role in the temple during the closing ceremony/liberation.

The devotees prepare for this festival months in advance, live in celibacy and eat sattvic food. Their everyday life is characterized by prayer and meditation. And it's amazing that I never saw blood during the ceremony. They didn't bleed even though they were wounded with the hooks. It was somehow very magical, divine. The devotees believe that worshiping Lord Murugan in this way every year makes them healthy in body and mind and helps them to get rid of any karmic debt they may have incurred.

Om Thatpurushaya Vidhmahe

Maha Senaya Dhimahi

Thannah Shanmukha Prachodhayat

Om, let us meditate that Supreme lord who is the Supreme General of the great Deva Army, Lord Shanmukha (Murugan/Skanda). May He enlighten us and lead us to be one with him.

next Thaipusam

2022, January, 18th

2023, February, 4th