Sunday, February 04, 2007
In addition to being the day marking the abolition of slavery in Mauritius, February 1 was the Tamil celebration of Cavadee. Along with fire-walking and sword-climbing ceremonies, Cavadee is among the most spectacular Tamil events.
Devotees fast for days up to the ceremony, and then pierce their bodies (tongues, backs, and cheeks seem most popular) with skewers. These were BIG and long skewers. They then walk, trance-like and in penance, to the temple bearing the "Cavadee", a wooden arch covered with flowers with a pot of milk at each end of its base. This is given as an offering to the god. Family members walk alongside in support -- it was really amazing to see how many people were doing this. The most interesting part for us was that no one appeared to be bleeding, and walking around Port Louis the day after, no one had any visible scarring, bandages, or evidence that they'd pierced themselves the day before.
We hadn't actually intended to attend any of the many (hundreds?) of ceremonies across the island, instead opting for the more benign Crocodile Park. However, en route, we became "trapped" behind one of the many processions. We lasted for about forty-five minutes before finding a "shortcut" to the Park. One of the most amazing things we've ever seen during our travels.