Seychelles Hindu devotees show their mettle at Thaipoosam Kavadi Festival
A devotee of the Lord Muruga carries a colourful kavadi balanced by means of a skewers pierced through the cheeks. (Joe Laurence, Seychelles News Agency)
(Seychelles News Agency) - Today, Hindus from all over the world celebrate the annual Thaipoosam Kavadi Festival, and the island archipelago of the Seychelles, located in the western Indian Ocean, is no different.
Devotees of the Hindu deity Lord Muruga flocked into the streets of the nation’s tiny capital, Victoria, on the main island of Mahé on Tuesday to partake in the colourful event to the fascination of onlookers.
The Seychelles, with its population of 90,000, has a small minority (around four percent) of permanent Indian inhabitants.
Among some of the earliest settlers of the Seychelles islands, mostly from southern Tamil Nadu and some from the north-western province of Gujarat, the Indian community in Seychelles joined other groups including African, Chinese and European people to make up the melting pot of warm and inviting Seychellois Creole culture.
|Curious onlookers and the Hindu faithful alike crowded around the procession which finally entered the picturesque Navasakthi Vinayagar temple in the capital of Seychelles, Victoria (Joe Laurence, Seychelles News Agency) Photo License: CC-BY|
The Hindu Kovil Sangam, the local religious organisation for most Hindus in the country, invited the public to participate in the procession, which ended off at the Navasakthi Vinayagar temple dedicated to Lord Muruga, the warrior deity followed primarily by Hindus of Tamil origin.
The festival is observed in countries where there is a significant presence of Tamil people, including India, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Mauritius, South Africa, Singapore, Guadalupe, Reunion, Indonesia, Thailand and Myanmar.
|Inside the temple, devotees anoint the statue of the Lord Muruga with milk and pray for blessings (Joe Laurence, Seychelles News Agency) Photo License: CC-BY|
The Kavadi itself is a physical burden through which the devotees implore for help from Lord Murugan.
Male and female devotees fasted for three days prior to the festival, after taking a vow to offer a kavadi (burden) to Lord Muruga for the purpose of easing the devotee’s suffering.
On the morning of the festival, male devotees shaved their heads and proceeded along the narrow streets of Victoria lined with onlookers while carrying various types of kavadi.
The simplest type of kavadi is a pot of milk, but they commonly entail elaborate and colourful frames pulled or balanced by means of skewers or hooks pierced into the flesh.
When the procession finally arrives at the temple, the devotees offer pots of milk to anoint Lord Muruga and to pray for his blessings.
After the anointing, special prayers were performed and a vegetarian lunch was shared with the public on the newly-purchased plot of land behind the temple where the Hindu Kovil Sangam intends to build a cultural centre.