Hundreds celebrate kavady festival

PHOTO: suppliedProfessor Chandru Kistan (middle) with Muruga devotees, carry the chariot from the temple to the river.
PHOTO: suppliedProfessor Chandru Kistan (middle) with Muruga devotees, carry the chariot from the temple to the river.

THE Shri Siva Subramaniar Alayam in Verulam attracted thousands of Muruga devotees from all over the country to its Thai Poosam Kavady festival observed on January 31 and February 4.

While over 700 devotees carried their kavadies on the first day and over 500 on February 4, this most celebrated religious event was attended by over 4 000 members on each the two days.

A senior trustee at the temple, Professor Chandru Kistan, said the spiritual journey commenced with the flag hoisting on January 22 and daily prayers were held, with numerous families participating in the Obayams and various prayer service groups singing devotional padigams dedicated to Lord Muruga.

“Muruga devotees observe a pure and austere life, self-discipline and abstinence of meaty foods and other worldly vices during the 14 days [of fasting]. These qualities are important to lead the correct balance in life between material and spiritual pursuits. This spiritual event is important to all South Africans as it symbolises self-discipline and a well-balanced life. We need to find time and place to pray and thank God for not only our own wellbeing and fortune but the natural resources we enjoy each day,” Kistan said.

He said that there are two main reasons for devotees participating in the kavady festival, firstly to thank God for one’s good health and secondly to evoke the blessing of Lord Muruga to overcome some personal problems in one’s life.

“This self-imposed sacrifice by carrying the kavady and walking barefoot from the river bank is a sincere act of repentance and forgiveness of the wrongs of the past. Some Muruga devotees have needles pierced through their cheeks and tongues and lime hooked all over their body,” Kistan said.

Kistan said that the unity, love, calmness and tolerance of both the devotees and the general public speak volumes of the calibre and divine character of the people attending.

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