Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Satanic verses

Ok, I’m finally fulfilling my pre-kavady resolution here… and put some flesh to the bone on the Kavady information pool. Kavady is not just Kavady! You’ve got the one back in jan/feb, the one that got lost in assumptions, which is actually called the Thai Poosam Kavady or just Thaipusam. Thaipusam is celebrated in the Tamil month of Thai (Jan/Feb) on the full moon day when the constellation “Pusam” is on the ascend. In effect they’ve got some astronomers telling them when the “Pusam” is right, and then they are waiting for one hell of a full moon party!

I wonder if the Pusam thing and the “earth, moon & sun” alignment ever coincide? That must be a rare occasion - damn rare I’m sure! With all that gravitational pull it would pretty much be a reversing of Ascension Day. Imagine, Jesus being pulled back from heaven… trying to hold on up there somewhere… Oh no, sorry! Got a bit carried away there. Taipusam is dedicated to Murugan of course… not any of my fanatical Christian beliefs! I don’t think Murugan did any major leap like Jesus though – not any that I know of at least, so 1-0 to Jesus there.

Research about this Murugan fellow has been a frustrating hunt. It’s like the name suddenly disappears in the middle of the text and you think you’re reading about some other guy… But the simple truth is that, he was so much loved and was called by so many different names… thereof (the one and true origin!) the expression “Loved ones have many names”. Murugan or Muruga (that one was easy to figure out) had some more far fetched names also, like Kartikeyan, Kumaran, Shanmukha, Skanda and Subramanian. No wonder I got confused only a few lines down in the Koran!! Any way, Murugan is the God of war and the patron deity of the Tamil land. That makes me wonder why all the Indians left India in the 1860’s to come here to sugar sweet South Africa, when they had such a good protector there at home? Was it only the sweet tooth??

The whole idea of Kavady actually made so much sense to me in my Christian mind-frame. It’s like Jesus on the cross, when he took all the blame and all the suffering on behalf of all of us sinners. Now Thaipusan Kavady is sort of a light-version where any ding-dong guy can take a load off the neighbor’s shoulders… But no again! The carrying of Kavady symbolizes the carrying of one’s burden and then resting it at the feet of the Lord. So Kavady IS a kind of burden, but there are some great benefits of dedicating your Kavady to Murugan instead of Jesus. Murugan stretches quite far and he actually promise you that the benefits of your offering (a piercing and a vow – big deal!) will be a million fold greater than the self inflicted pain. Wow – who wouldn’t want that? Even the smallest offering would become a decent reward!

Imagine if my forefathers back in Norway had the choice between Jesus and Murugan! Holy Olav would surely threaten to decapitate you by the slightest sign of hesitation… But Murugan is the God of War, and could surely protect his fans! To make the choice easier I think they should use the old Viking tradition of “Holmgang”. You basically put the disputants, Jesus and Murugan, on an island where they can fight until one is dead. Then you don’t have to worry so much about the dead and apparently much weaker god. The surviving party, according to the tradition, was always the one that was right in the dispute… so this should ensure a good choice for my forefathers in the end! But Jesus was such a pacifist so I’m sure Holy Olav would take his place on the island. That’s 1 for Murugan and draw 1-1 so far since Jesus was such a coward. At least then people could watch the match and feel safe that they chose the right god… But wow, that fight would really have been something, huh? I know it’s hard to predict or even imagine the outcome of this fight… But they did it on Discovery Channel, when they put shark against crocodile and other predators also up against each other. They could simply make a dummy of Holy Olav and Murugan… then feed the computers with Olav’s sword fighting skills and Murugan’s war-god abilities… and voila – the fight is on! I wonder what the bookmakers odds would have been back in the days? People placing their bets would probably hope for Murugan with the unimaginable million fold riches as well as from the bookmaker! Yes, all the money would probably go that way anyway… The best thing would be to plead allegiance with Holy Olav (secure your head) and bet for Murugan, and hope that Olav will never find out…

Back to the Kavady rite! You’re supposed to do this out of love of course. These days though, people are shallower and many do it more out of fear than the love… People do it to avoid a great calamity in the family and such things. It’s insurance basically. You’ve got Kavady and Sanlam and the rest. So it’s the same motivation whatever you choose really… beg to keep your head! Wrong again… Murugan has so much more to offer. When you offer the kavady you get so intoxicated with the love of God that your inner spiritual chamber is open. Now you will eventually reach “Para Bhakti” – supreme devotion! Para Bhakti is good for YOU – not just Murugan’s poll! For the Stensby clan though I think a draw, 1-1, would suit us well! Neutral is good!

Almost forgot… the Kavady can be a thick balancing stick held over your shoulders. In either end of the stick the Kavady holds milk or honey that they later on, once inside the temple, pour over the statue of Murugan. This is a mild (chicken!) Kavady. 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. That’s why some of the Kavady bearers do it as a sadhana! These guys are the ones that perform the juicy and weird stuff that you really want to see! Sadhana means that they impose various sorts of self torture upon themselves. Not like pinching themselves… but much more inventive stuff. Some brighties shove a sharp Vel through their tongue or cheeks… and it is made so that it protrudes out of the mouth. This will of course prevent him from speaking. It is believed to give great power of endurance and remembrance of God. It is easy to see that the excruciating pain can make you hallucinate and easily be misinterpreted as the intoxicating love… Anybody with a slightest bit of sanity (still with a strong belief though) left would then beg fanatically to reach Para Bhakti and some relief from the pain.

Another cool thing that can be seen during Kavady is the pulling of Rath, or beautifully decorated carts, through the streets. These guys must be the elite of penitents, as they pierce their flesh with hooks and strings in order to pull the cart. Obviously an instant Para Bhakti activity – just imagine what kind of cruelties those guys must have done… I mean, to do something so extreme in order to rectify it… Or they are scared of the retribution that they have coming for them… Your’re basically taking out a Kavady insurance. Then after the Kavady is over, instead of retributions, you will receive some tinfish curry on your door. The tinfish curry is of course the hindu equivalent of the Italian fish wrapped in a newspaper. When you can smell the tinfish on your door, then you know that you are “off the hook” and you can let down your shoulders and carry on with your sinful everyday life. A well protected secret is that the hindu mafiaboss is called a guru. They most definitely do not practice what they preach, but they’ve got a very good cover. These days people attach so many different and mostly positive values to anybody with the title guru, that they can pretty much do what they want and get away with it as a guru. It’s actually a prime example of marketing and perception.

Since Thai Poosam Kavady is set in jan/feb… I’ve been on a mission to find out what the full name of the Kavady around Easter time is. So far though, I have not been successful in finding it. It seems I might have to leave this question open until I’ve paid the Kavady festival a visit and ask around. For now it will have to do with just “Easter Kavady”. Whatever information I have found on the subject is that firewalking, or walking on glowing coal, seems to be an important thing. Maybe it’s to show your devotion to the God of war or something… that you are willing to go through hell for him… I am sure this will bring you quite quickly to Para Bakhti and humiliating begging for relief once again.

I’ll call it quits for now… and now you know pretty much all that’s worth knowing about the Thaipusam Kavady! I will consider doing a masters degree on the subject or go into Lord Murugans army of devoted soldiers… as I am apparently a prime source of information/knowledge on the matter already… ref “Self Googling”!!


Anonymous said...

You seriously need god in your life and it will be best if you started by going to school since you are so dumb and you know nothing about religion except for what your demonic parents have told you.




Jonny said...

Why so serious my friend :-)

I am proud of who I am. Not a Hindu or Christian, but I don't think you ought to be to be a proud or good person.

Most Hindu people I know and respect have close family ties, and I envy them that as that is not the same here. The welfare society in Norway haven't made things much better... and I can't recall mom in skirts ever! Pants have been quite common here for women since I can remember... so I guess that's a cultural thing you're referring to :-)

I chose my path and education independently... no god or demon told me what to do. Life has also thaught me not to always be dead serious... it kills the spirit of life.

Anonymous said...

Why the title 'satanic verses"? Did you really research the topic you are commenting on? I am serious because you are making fun of my beliefs and practices without truly having any knowledge of it. Did you ever Question the christian belief? There is some really crazy and unbelievable things there that people are brainwashed to believe..but you dont see me making fun of that.

I hope you would write one on that.



Jonny said...

Listen! I'm really sorry you feel so offended. This is not a serious attempt to put your religion in a bad light. Nor is it to glorify Christianity, take one more look. It's simply light hearted drivel that should not be taken seriously, and for the most part people take it as just that!

I do respect people's right to believe in what they want. I have hindu friends and family and friends with different religious beliefs. It's mutual respect all the way!

I see religion as an interesting cultural phenomenon. Christianity too. Vikings used to believe in gods in every tree and rock - cool and interesting stuff that is good blog material. Whether it's my forefathers or my own beliefs, I don't mind if people make jokes about it, as long as it's not dead serious propaganda made only to cause trouble. This is not!

I believe in evolution and that it does not necessarily exclude the possibility that a god exist. The fact that we (according to this belief) descend from apes and busy evolving into who knows what, gives vivid imaginations plenty to work on.

Speaking of Christian crazyness, or other religious stuff for that matter, here are a couple of other light hearted broadsides: