22. The Kavadi Festival-2.
Now, the two baskets hanging at each end of the Kavadi contain rice, milk or other articles that the devotee has vowed to offer the Lord.
The more devout among them, and especially those who do it as a Sadhana, collect these articles by begging.
They travel on foot from village to village, and beg from door to door.
The villagers offer their articles directly into the basket of the Kavadi.
The Kavadi-bearer continues begging until the baskets are full or the avowed quantity is reached, and then offers the Kavadi to the Lord.
Some keen devotees undertake to walk barefoot from home to one of the shrines of Lord Subramanya, bearing the Kavadi all the way and collecting materials for the offering.
He has to walk a hundred miles sometimes! The people who place the articles in the baskets also receive the Lord’s blessings.
The Kavadi-bearer: The Kavadi-bearer is required to observe various rules between the time he takes up the Kavadi, and the day of the offering.
He has to perform elaborate ceremonies at the time of assuming the Kavadi, and at the time of offering it to the Lord.
He also puts on the dress of a Pandaram, a Saivite mendicant. It consists of a saffron-coloured cloth, a conical scarlet cap, and a cane silver-capped at both ends.
Lord Siva, the Supreme Pandaram Himself, loves to wear this dress.
The Pandaram lives on alms only.
The bare chest of the Kavadi-bearer is covered with several rudraksha malas.
To be continued .....