Preparations for a festival-before and after
Thaipusam is a Hindu festival that takes place at the end of January. It is a special religious occasion to honour Lord Subramaniam. During this festival, devotees take part in an elaborate procession that leads to and from Lord Subramaniam's temple. Some participants who have taken oaths or asked for forgiveness carry simple utensils like brass pots containing milk. Others choose structures decorated with crepe paper, leaves, beads and flowers. Many walk in a trance with hooks, spears and other sharp objects pierced through their bodies. BEFORE & AFTER
Kavadi bearers take several days to prepare for this event. One important part of the preparation is their food intake. They either go on a strict vegetarian diet or fast for a minimum of three days. Their families usually help in decorating the kavadi. They have also to fast or turn vegetarian. They can choose to stay in the temple with the kavadi bearer before the big day. On the eve of the celebration, the kavadi bearer starts the day with a cup of coffee or tea without milk or sugar. In the afternoon they perform prayers and rituals at the altar. Before the afternoon meal, they place food on banana leaves before Lord Subramaniam to be blessed by the deity. After this ritual, the food is eaten by the devotee, sometimes together with his family. The meal is, of course strictly vegetarian. Tea is skipped for the day. At dinner time, rice is replaced with unleavened bread like chapatti or sometimes dosai. The kavadi bearer must also dress in plain cotton clothes. On Thaipusam day kavadi bearers wake up at dawn, shower and put on yellow clothes. Each kavadi is blessed and prayers are chanted to prepare the devotee spiritually, mentally and physically. A stainless steel container filled with milk is tied to the kavadi before it takes its place in the procession. The kavadi bearer is now ready to go in the procession without feeling the weight of his kavadi or the...
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