Mauritius Cavadee festival is a ceremony with weird tribal rituals, with origins in the ancient Tamil legend. It’s the story of a symbolic name –Idumban- meaning ‘arrogant’. He was a disciple of Agattiyar- a guru- and a reformed bandit. This guru asked Idumban one day to bring him two summits by setting off the mountains and to attach them at the cavadee’s end (the cavadee being a stick used to carry the loads). Being faithful and obedient, Idumban started his journey with his wife. He tied the peaks on the yoke but in his way to Agattiyar, Lord Muruga transformed himself into a boy, hiding in one peak so to make the load harder.
He was discovered by Idumban and getting very furious on him, he didn’t recognize his God and started a fight with the boy. The man died after he was pierced with spear by Muruga. Agattiyar and followers prayed so much for the Idumban’s divine grace and in the end, due to their god, the man was resurrected. Then, the people decided that the wishes of ones carrying the cavadee to the temple will be granted.
In this way, they will thank God for its goodness and it would also be a god chance to thank God for his favours. More, they will be close to God and to His kindness and wisdom. Today the Mauritius Cavadee festival is based on this legend that wants to say that faith’s road is full of obstacles and long but faith and love help us to achieve some wonderful things.
The Mauritius Cavadee festival is celebrated on more than one time per year. Still, the Thaipoosam Mauritius Cavadee festival is the most popular, usually taking place in January or in February. The festival day is symbolic for the Mauritius Tamils. A flag (kodi) with the spear which killed Idumban and a cock or peacock is put at the temple’s entrance showing the fasting beginning. The fast may last even 10 days. It is a sacred period in which the faithful have to purify the heart and the soul, dispelling envy, arrogance, passion and hatred. The faithful’s life main rules should be the prayers and the abstinence.
The people wishing to participate in the Mauritius Cavadee festival have to be spiritually and physically prepared for the trying and magnificent festival. As sign of obedience and commitment, the participants wear a bracelet around the wrist and in the following days of the Mauritius Cavadee festival, the penitents go to the temple for prays and for singing religious hymns. At the God’s feet are laid down offerings like saffron water, milk, fruits and coconuts.
The faithful people offer their body to ‘vels’ – sharp needles and to the silver or metal long pikes piercing their cheeks, tongue and forehead, the believers being committed to silence. The vels are the symbol of the Lord Muruga spear which killed Idumban and must be pricked in legs, abdomen, chest and back.