Kavadi

This semi-circular decorated canopy supported with wooden cross-pieces is called a kavadi, meaning 'burden' or 'load'. Decorated with peacock feathers, palm leaves, milk pots and flowers, it is carried on the shoulders of Hindu devotees during Thaipusam. Thaipusam is a Hindu festival celebrated by the Tamil community in the month of Thai (January-February) on the day of the star, Pusam around Pournami (Full Moon). It commemorates the birthday of Lord Murugan (also Subramaniam), the youngest son of Shiva and Parvati, and also the occasion when Parvati gave Murugan a vel (lance) so he could vanquish the evil demon Soorapadman. In order to thank the god Murugan, by means of a vow and the offering of a sacrifice, believers carry the kavadi. On the festival day, the devotee may also carry two pots of milk to the temple. Devotees also may pierce their skin, tongue or cheeks with various needles, pins and hooks.

Indigenous Name
Kavadi
Date/Period
20th century
Region
South India
Accession No.
XXXX-09242
Material
Wood, cotton cloth, metal hooks, peacock feathers
Collection of
Asian Civilisations Museum
Credit Line
Gift of Mr. Sathyamurthi Naidu, Singapore
Category
Folklife Collection