Thaipusam Guide: Understand its Meaning and Rituals
Bearing Kavadi to Lord Murugan is of great significance as it brings peace and good luck. The story behind Kavadi is associated with Lord Murugan testing Idumban of his determination and duty towards his Guru Sage Agasthiar.
The Story of Idumban and Beginning of Kavadi
Idumban was a highly devoted student of Sage Agasthiar. One day, Sage Agasthiar asked Idumban to bring two hills which were occupied by Lord Murugan. The two hills were Sivagiri and Shakthigiri. As a trial, Idumban first lifted them up and both the mountains came up easily. Satisfied with his efforts, he kept them back and started preparing to take them to his Guru.
Lord Murugan, who was watching all this from a distance, decided to test Idumban’s determination as well as his devotion for his master. He took the form of a young boy and stood atop a hill.
Idumban tried to pick up the hill but was unable to do. He kept on trying numerous times and looked up to see a young boy atop the hill. He asked the boy to get down but the boy stood his ground. The boy did not move out after repeated requests and this enraged Idumban. He lost his patience and attacked the him but to his amazement with all his strength as a warrior, he could not move the boy and instead, he got hurt in the process.
LEARN: How to Receive Lord Murugan’s Blessings?
Idumban stopped and looked at the boy and suddenly realised who the he really was and folded his arms in reverence. Lord Murugan then appeared before him. He was pleased with Idumban’s determination and devotion and appointed him as his guard. Lord Murugan declared that people who carry Kavadi, which symbolises the hills of burden taken by Idumban, will be blessed. It is believed that the burden in the life of a devotee who carries Kavadi is lessened by Murugan.
Another account suggests that when Sage Agasthiar asked for the two hills, Idumban fetched the peaks of the hills and attached them to the ends of a kavadi, which is a pole used to carry loads. Upon the reaching the peak of Palani Hill, Idumban spotted a young boy and demanded that he vacate at once to proceed with his task. The boy, none other than Lord Murugan himself, who was in a fighting mood, refused. A fierce battle began and Idumban was slain.
READ: The Warrior God, Lord Murugan & His Battles
Saint Agasthiyar and his followers prayed for the resurrection of Idumban. Their wishes were granted by Lord Murugan. It is believed that devotees who carry their Kavadi to the temple will also have their wishes granted.
FIND: Types Of Kavadi
The usual Kavadi is a small wooden structure with an arch covered with a piece of cloth and is held on shoulders. The two sides of the Kavadi are covered with feathers of a peacock – the vehicle of Lord Murugan. The sides also contain milk pots or two bags to carry offerings to the Lord. Some devotees seek contributions from different households by 'begging' (a religious practice in Hinduism) to collect offerings to the Lord. But today, most people fill the bags on their own.
Watch our mini documentary series 'Road to Thaipusam' to rediscover Batu Caves Murugan and the true meaning behind the annual celebration of Thaipusam in Malaysia: