The Kavadi is the trance dance of Tamil Nadu. Kavadi is a wooden shaft with two triangular conical bamboo frames tied to both the ends. The pilgrims to the temple of Lord Muruga at Palani carry these Kavadis on their shoulder putting milk or scented water pots in the bamboo frames. They go in a procession, all the way singing and dancing to the music provided by Nadaswaram, the reeled wind instrument, and Thavil, the drum. A legend is associated with this pilgrimage. According to the legend, Idumban was a giant. He uprooted two hillocks and tied them to the two ends of a pole. He then lifted and slung it from his shoulder. Appreciating the great prowess of the giant, Lord Muruga (son of Shiva, also known as Subramanya, and in North India as Kartik) appointed him as chief assistant. Therefore, Idumban is first worshiped before the worship of Lord Muruga. The Kavadis represent Idumban’s sling with two hillocks. Hundreds of pilgrims carrying these Kavadis go on pilgrimage to the Lord Muruga temple. The pilgrimage procession stops when one or more are seen dancing in a slower tempo. The pilgrim dances for some time shifting the Kavadi skillfully from one shoulder to another The tempo rises and when the dancers fall into a trance they put the Kavadis on ground and allow themselves to be tortured. It is believed that those who are in trance have been possessed by evil spirits. They are tortured for the purification of their bodies.
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