Thai Poosam Kavady is a Hindu religious festival dedicated to Hindu deity Lord Murugan. Thai Poosam falls on the full moon day in the Tamil month Thai (January). The ten-day festival starts with hoisting of the flag. Daily rituals, abolitions and singing devotional hymns are held in honour of Lord Murugan.
On the main day of the Kavady festival, devotees carry the Kavady from a distance away from the temple, preferable from a river, back to the temple. It is believed that the more effort and hardship applied when carrying the Kavady, the more benevolent Lord Murugan will be towards fulfilling his devotee’s needs. Devotees usually carry milk and honey on either end of their Kavadies.
The simplest kavadi is a semi circular decorated canopy supported by a wooden rod that is carried on the shoulders, to the temple. In addition, some have a little spear through their tongue, or a spear through the cheeks. The spear pierced through his tongue or cheeks reminds him constantly of Lord Murugan. It also prevents him from speaking and gives great power of endurance. Other types of kavadi involve hooks stuck into the back and either pulled by another walking behind or being hung from a decorated bullock cart or more recently a tractor, with the point of incisions of the hooks varying the level of pain. The greater the pain the more god-earned merit.
After entering the temple grounds the devotees carry their Kavadies three times around the temple. When they are inside the temple, the milk and honey are poured over the statue of Lord Murugan. The festival concludes with the de-hoisting of the flag.