The Kavadi Ceremony – worship through pain


On the way to Trichnapali from Jaffna i was amazed to see a truck coming towards my car blaring spiritual music which sounded like an arati . It was well decorated with photographs of goddess Durga painted on it , but what took my attention was a man bobbing up and down like a yo yo on strings which was attached to a lever.


On top of the lever stood a man jumping up and down making the guy hanging by the string bob up and down even faster . I asked my driver to stop the car , i jumped out in excitement this was something i had to take a closer look at . I went near this truck and realized that the strings that man was hanging on were attached to iron hooks which were embedded into the flesh of the man’s back and he was hanging in mid air bobbing up and down by quick thrusts applied by the other man who was jumping on top of the leaver . This was indeed a unique site as kids and women thronged to the truck to take photo’s . The man also had a iron hook going through his cheeks as he looked like a fish caught by a fishing rod . I tried to make sense of all this and rushed into the temple near by .

There i saw more devotees getting their backs pierced by the local priest , who put oil and cream on their flesh and then inserted iron hooks six inches thick into the flesh of their backs. Then they were also suspended into thin air in this manner ,as the crowd cheered and rooted for them . I was told this is the famous Kawadi Ceremony and is performed by the local people to please the gods so that they can keep bad spirits and omens away from their loved ones .

It was also performed to keep away famine and sickness away from the villages . I took many a snaps of this unique and fascinating ritual as the kids danced around me . It is amazing how pain has been used as a medium to please the god’s . In islamic faith muhurram is a ritual performed in which people hurt their bodies with knives and lashes till blood oozes out of their body in order to please allah . In india Aghori’s carry out similar ritual’s to please Shamshan Tara the goddess of the Shamshaan. Human and animal sacrifice has been used for years in many tantric cults . This however was an amazing site as not a drop of blood came out from the body of these devotees . I wanted to try this but was too sacred to , so just took snaps and savoured in this unique ritual .

In Jaffna i also walked into the famous Murugappa temple , which is a temple made to by homage to lord shiva’s son . It reminded me of the famous temples of Thiruvanantapuram in it’s structure and architecture. Full of painting of Parvanti , Ganesh and other deities of the gods , it was grand in it’s splendor with a little pond right in the middle of the temple.

But above all the Kawadi ceremony was the highlight of my day as i reached Thrichinapali in the evening to relax in my hotel and savor the experience for the night.

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