Murugan is the deity of the Tamil Land. Palani (Tiru
Avinankudi) is the third Padai Veedu. The temple at
Palani is an ancient one, situated at an elevation
of 1500 feet above sea level. It is a charming campus
from where one can take a look at the Idumban Hill,
the Kodaikanal Hills, the Western Ghats, the greenery
of the paddy fields, rivers, tanks, Palani town and
the colleges. On a lovely, clear and mist-free day,
the Kurinci Andavar Temple is visible from here against
the bright sun. In daytime, Palani is Hill Beautiful;
at night, it is Hill Resplendent.
deity of Palani is known as Dandayudhapani Swami,
the Lord having the Staff in his Hand. The deity at
the sanctum sanctorum is made out of an amalgam of
nine minerals popularly called Navabashana. The deity
is in a standing position with a baton in his hand.
He has the look of a person who has renounced all
worldly pomp. He has just a loincloth besides the
baton. He is a mute messenger of the great precept
'Renounce all to reach Me'. The icon is unique in
the whole world. It was made by siddha Bhogar by combining
nine poisonous substances (navabashana). Murugan signifies
beauty and Lord Murugan of Kurinji land is the god
of Beauty and Youth.
Thai Pusam is another festival in
which people enjoy themselves to the hilt in rich
pageantry. Palani is one of the most exciting pilgrim
cities of India, in the immediate post-harvest season
of the ten-day Thai Pusam festival in the Periyan?ki
in other festivals, a different v?nam is used for
each day's procession. On the seventh day, the full-moon
day marking the Thai Pusam, the deity is taken to
the banks of the Shanmuga Nadi for a bath and the
temple car drawn by thousands of devotees. There is
a gaily decorated float festival on the tenth day.
The unique character of the Thai Pusam is the astonishing
parade of people bearing kavadis. As already stated,
the kavadi, associated with Idumban, vassal of Muruga,
originated in Palani.
There are several kinds of kavadis, the milk and rosewater
kavadis being the principal ones. The central shaft
of the semicircular wooden structure is placed on
the shoulders and the pilgrims dressed in yellow costume
and decorated with garlands, undergoing many privations
to fulfill vows, dance their way through the streets
and up the hillock under the hypnotic music provided
by the drum, the pipes and the tom-tom.
It is a tandava as opposed to the lasya form of dance
and when performed with vigour and quick movements
produces in the spectators a feeling of exultation
and a temptation to keep step with the rhythm and
Extreme devotion prompts some kavadi dancers to disfigure
their lips. The lower lip is pierced through for the
insertion of a copper or brass ring, often with a
view to maintain strict silence. The dancers subject
themselves to rigorous austerities and try to get
rid of their ego, anger, lust and other vices. They
dance to the tunes of kavadi-c-cindu, sung by admiring
groups of devotees who follow them (the dancers).
The divine songs are rendered in charming music by
a trained singer and repeated by others in chorus
and the emotion-choked dancer goes into raptures hearing
them. Sometimes they react by shifting the kavadi
over their shoulder, head, nose, etc., in seesaw position,
displaying great artistry with many a pose and movement
in rhythm, unaided by hand.
The number of kavadis reaching Palani for Thai Pusam
is about 10,000. For Pankuni Uttiram, 50,000 kavadis
arrive. It is kavadi to your right, kavadi to your
left, kavadi in front of you, kavadi behind you, kavadi
above you and kavadi below you.
The kavadis are borne by common folk as well as by
millionaires who are otherwise confined to their air-conditioned
suites. They all come walking (without footwear) in
groups from their homes at a distance of about a hundred
miles while scores and scores of empty limousines
follow them. Crowds line the entire route, cheer the
kavadi bearers and offer them tender coconut drinks
in praise of their display of courage and determination.
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