ANTICIPATION is running high among the Hindus as Thaipusam is just hours away. For most people, whenever Thaipusam is mentioned the image of Hindu devotees swarming Batu Caves while carrying a Kavadi (a carrier made of wood or metal and is attached with chains, spears or hooks) immediately comes to mind.
But did you know that there is a big concern among the Hindus in welcoming tomorrow’s big event?
It turns out that there are new ‘models’ of Kavadi that do not adhere to the real concept of Thaipusam and this is worrying for some Hindus. We speak to local Hindu practitioners on what they think of the issue.
OF STYLE AND DEVOTION
Traditionally, a Kavadi should have with it Lord Murugan’s (Hindu deity) image as a symbol of devotion towards him. The number of spears, hooks and chains attached to it depends on the devotee’s vow.
The more vows fulfilled, the bigger the number or spears, hooks and chains are used and vice versa.Kavadi is performed to lessen bad karmas and in certain situations as a form of redemption.
But today, there are some who try to‘re-invent’ their Kavadi by giving it their own personal touch. Among the new ‘styles’ of Kavadi emerging this year include those with political and football club logos. Some of the Hindus we interviewed in Kuala Lumpur told us that there are Kavadis with DAP logo as well as Kavadis with Manchester United symbol. There are also Kavadis with pictures of movie stars on it and photos of fruits decorating the holy equipment.
As much as this may sound entertaining to some, the truth is, such Kavadi isn’t appropriate for religious events like Thaipusam. Butterworth’s Sivan Temple committee’s chairman C.Padmanabhan strongly believes so.
The 57 years old was informed by his peers about the creation of these inappropriate Kavadi. To him, it is a total mockery to the very meaning of Thaipusam, which is to celebrate Lord Murugan, one of Hindu’s famous deities.
“These Kavadis are definitely not allowed to enter the temples. Devotees who plan to carry these ‘unreligious’ Kavadis do not respect the occasion and the act is uncalled for,” he said adding that Thaipusam procession normally starts from a designated temple of choice and ends at Batu Caves.
“This is a religious event and the Hindus celebrating it have to take it seriously.”
Sujintheren, 30, agreed with Padmanabhan’s view.
“First of all, people must understand the real sense of Thaipusam and why we carry the Kavadi. I think this football-inspired Kavadis are pointless and not funny. Maybe the people who choose to carry such Kavadi crave for people’s attention,” the banker said.Crowd in Batu Caves last year.
Other items banned from the temple tomorrow include alcohol, Satai (whip), red powder, more than three feet long cheek spear and cigar as well as revealing clothes.
THE REAL DEAL
A person carries a Kavadi as a way to thank Lord Murugan for fulfilling his wish. In Hinduism, Lord Murugan represents virtue, youth and power and he is the destroyer of evil.
The Hindus also believe that Lord Muragan is the universal giver of favours. Hence, many who make vows and pledges to him show their gratitude by going through sacrificial self-mortification on Thaipusam day.
There are ‘rules and regulations’ a devotee needs to follow before dedicating himself in carrying the Kavadi. Moventheren Sanghker,30, who has been a Kavadi bearer since 2010 explained to us.
“A devotee has to fast for 48 days prior to Thaipusam. And in this form of fasting, the devotee has to eat only vegetables and the containers used to cook the food must be free from any contact with any meats. For me, my mother bought a whole set of new cooking utensils just for Thaipusam,” said the 30-years old police officer from Pahang.
A devotee carrying a kavadi on Thaipusam. Pic : google.comFor Moventheren, this year he vows that if he gets promoted to be an Inspector, he would carry a Kavadi for the next five years.
He added that apart from fasting, the Kavadi bearer has to sleep on the floor and always keep God close to his heart. Holding back the tongue is also required as it means that the person must not curse or swears. Abstinence from sexual activities is also a must.
Moventheren keeps his Kavadi in the right form and there is no fooling around for him. He said that one will only get to successfully carry out the holy task when his mind is free of material wants and the body is free from physical pleasures.
On the day, devotees are normally accompanied by friends and family members who cheer and offer support, usually in the form of prayers and chants.