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Saturday, August 3, 2013

AADI KARTHIKAI FESTIVAL IN KGF – SOME CHILDHOOD MEMORIES


THE AADI KARTHIKAI FESTIVAL IN KGF – SOME CHILDHOOD MEMORIES
An excerpt from my book KOLAR GOLD FIELDS DOWN MEMORY LANE
I have some very vivid childhood  memories of the ‘Aadi Karthigai or Adi Kirthigai’ Festival  or the KAVADI Festival in KGF
The Aadi Karthigai or Adi Kirthigai Festival was celebrated very grandly by the Tamilian Population in KGF during Tamil Hindu month of ‘Aadi’.  Aadi Karthigai is celebrated on Kirthigai Nakshatra day of the Tamil Calendar which is mid July to mid August. This festival  honours Lord Murga who is also known as Lord Subramanya.The Community venerated Lord Murgan in a big temple in Thiruthini, which is a place in Tamil   Nadu. The beautiful temple of Lord Muruga at Tiruttani is around 84 kilometers from Chennai. Every year they would go on pilgrimage  to this temple in Thirutanni to fulfill their vows.
The devotees who made a vow to carry the ‘kavadi’ were dressed in yellow or ochre clothes and  had to carry a heavy York balanced on their shoulders filled with flowers and other items required for performing the Puja. Sometimes they pierced their cheeks and bodies with long metal skewers and smeared their bodies with Turmeric, Vermilion and Ash. The kavadi itself is a physical burden through which the devotees implore Lord Murga for help and to grant their intentions. The kavadi consists of two semicircular pieces of wood or steel which are bent and attached to a cross structure that can be balanced on the shoulders of the devotee, decorated with flowers, peacock feathers, etc. The Kavadis are quite heavy and some can weigh up to 30 kg. The preparations for this ritual start before the festival. The devotees purge themselves of all mental and physical impurities. They have to follow a strict vegetarian diet and fast on the day they offer the puja. Many of them bathe in cold water during this period and shave their heads on the Aadi Kirithigai Day




In my childhood days, I remember that special trains were arranged by the Railways besides a fleet of Government and private buses to enable the devotees from KGF who were performing the ‘KAVADI’ to travel from KGF to Thiruthini. The same trains and buses would also bring them back to KGF.

The streets of KGF especially around the Workers Colonies would be vibrant and colourful during this period with special prayers being offered to the diety in the Pandals erected at every corner. Loud speakers blaring devotional songs to the Lord and mass feeding were common. Just before it was time to board the special trains or buses to take them to Thiruthini, huge processions of devotees carrying the kavadis preceded by a group of persons beating drums and followed by throngs of people would wend their way to the 4 Railway stations of KGF and the bus stops. The sight of the devotees carrying the heavy kavadis and the followers in the procession uttering the sacred words "Haro Hara!" as they marched and danced in time to the drum beats was a sight to behold. One had to see it to believe it.

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