What Kavady means to me

2018-02-15 06:00

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CULTURE finds expression in a series of gestures, by observing fasts, abstaining from certain pleasures or any sacrifice to prove ones devotion to God.

A story of greatness, devotion and strength, the extinguishing of pride and ego, was told yet again. Devotees celebrated the divine festival of Kavady in worship of Lord Muruga. Lord Muruga symbolises immense wisdom and strength and we pray to him to lessen our burdens and for direction in the life we lead. I was taught that observing fasts and making certain sacrifices from our daily lives is a gesture of showing gratitude to God. I have always been the type of person to ask numerous questions to understand why we are performing a certain prayer or why we follow a certain custom.

Last weekend I finally understood why it is so important to know exactly why we follow customs and traditions, it is because when you are aware of the essence of a situation you naturally put your whole heart and soul into it. Growing up with a large family, Kavady was always a festival we would wait in anticipation to celebrate, the elders in our family performed certain traditions while we were growing up which we were able to observe and learn from.

This year, our elders got to watch us with pride, observe the Kavady festival just as they taught us. There are so many parts of the festival that are exciting, one of the most important parts is the music, which is basically people from our community rendering bhajans which is seen as indispensable in elevating spiritual upliftment during the festival. Divine vibrations are felt as devotees dance while parading with their kavadies on the route back to their respective temples.

The Hindu culture being so conservative and strict has a particular dress code which needed to be followed. Woman present themselves in their cultural attire which is saree or a punjabi and men must wear a dhoti. The festival begins at dawn where devotees observe a Hawan (holy fire), the parade moves back to the temple where the last two rituals are performed.

One of them is the Paal Abhishegam, which is the milk which is contained usually in a chombu (brass container) offered to Lord Muruga, this symbolises the kavady carriers burdens being placed at the feet of God. Lord Muruga is known as the God of war among his devotees.

My cousins and I would often attend youth classes were our uncle would teach us to sing bhajans and manthras when we were younger. One of the bhajans we once were taught had the lyrics “When I need you Muruga you are there, to take all my troubles away, you’re my swami Muruga, giving light Muruga , come to me Lord Muruga”. As I watched devotees performing the Paal abisheigam, I understood those lines and what they meant.

With any religion and culture there are scriptures one follows. With Hinduism we believe that however we pray or whatever scriptures you follow, they symbolise something specific.

Whichever holy scripture your religion provides does not tell you what to do but explains life in a way that will answer those questions you may not find on your own but through your own perception of what you take from it. The verse I mentioned from the bhajan I was taught simply meant to me that God is the light to any darkness. It was a beautiful experience to observe the prayer and watch devotees pray with so much love and devotion.

The last ritual was the lowering of the flag which symbolised the end of the festival. That was my 2018 Kavady experience from my perspective.

I came across a quote which read: “One day your heart will stop beating and none of your fears will matter, what will matter is how you lived.” Every tomorrow is a new beginning, Sathi vel Murganike, aroharah!

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