The festival of Kavadi Attam is a religious folk dance which is celebrated by the Hindus of Tamil Nadu. The name Kavadi Attam, literally means ‘Burden dance’. In this festival, Lord Murugan, the God of War is worshipped.
The word, ‘Kavadi’ means ‘burden’. Lord Murugan is worshipped by making ceremonial sacrifices and offerings to pray to him to help them ward off their debts and to be saved from any kind of calamity. The Kavadi may vary in shape and size and it has rice, milk or anything that the devotee would like to offer to Lord Murugan.
Devotees start preparing for the festival 48 days before the Thaipusam. To keep both their mental and physical purity intact, they consume only one vegetarian meal per day and observe complete fast a day before Thaipusam. During this, they strictly follow certain things, for example, they pray most of the time, sleep on the floor, bath in cold water, abstain from drinking, etc. to stay away from the worldly desires.
On the day of the festival, pilgrims move on foot on the pilgrimage route i.e. from village to village, upto the Pallani hills, dancing and performing various devotional acts. They carry some kind of kavadi (burden) with them, which could be a pot of milk ortwo semicircular pieces of wood, which are bent and fixed to a cross structure, so that it can be balanced on the shoulders. The kavadi may weigh upto many kilograms. It is often beautified by using flowers, feathers and peacock feathers, which is considered to be Lord Murugan’s means of transportation.