Kavadi Dance is a type of honour given to Lord Muruga by the devotees during the time of the festival of Thaipusam. The kavadi is an item made out of wood or steel, and it would be decorated with flowers and peacock feathers, and Murugan devotees would carry it during the auspicious Thaipusam festival day on their shoulders, as a part of showing their sincere devotion on Muruga. Some devotees would hold the Kavadi in order to get rid from their diseases and from their other problems in their life. During their journey with the Kavadi, Murugan Devotees would sing and dance in praise of Lord Muruga.
As per legend, the first Kavadi, in the form of a hill, was lifted by Sage Agastya’s disciple, Idumban and he met Lord Muruga near Palani, and became his devotee and a guardian for him.
In order to honour the great Idumban, there is a separate shrine for Lord Idumban, and those who visit the Palani Temple must first offer their worship to Idumban, and then only they can proceed further to have the darshan of Lord Dandayudhapani, also known as Palani Andavar, a form of Lord Muruga. From then onwards, pilgrims marching towards Palani would bring their offerings on their shoulders through the holy Kavadi. Nowadays lot of devotees are visiting the various other shrines of Lord Muruga by holding the Kavadi on their shoulders.
Similar to the Ayyappa devotees, 48 days before the start of the Thaipusam festival, the Muruga devotees would purify themselves by adopting certain measures like taking only vegetarian food at one time in a day, and for the remaining hours, they must have to take only milk, fruits and fruits juices. They must have to avoid their bad habits like drinking and smoking, must regularly worship Lord Muruga, and they have to take bath for two times a day, and they should not use bad words while talking with others.
On the day of the festival, some devotees who take kavadi, would also pierce their skin and tongue with Vel, a sharp iron instrument, and as per the experiences shared by some devotees, during the time of Vel piercing on their body, they didn’t get any pain and there was no wounds on their body.
Thaipusam is celebrated in foreign countries like Mauritius, Singapore, Malaysia, and also in U.K. and Italy.