SCFI FestivalsSociety for the Confluence of Festivals in India

Holi in Tamil Nadu

People of Tamil Nadu celebrate Holi around the legend of Kama Deva. On this day, songs are sung that tell the pathetic tale of Rati and her lamentations. Holi is known by three different names here, Kamavilas, Kaman Pandigai and Kama-Dahanam.

The Legend of Kaamadeva

The story prevalent in South India is that of Kamadeva-the Love God (the Hindu equivalent of Cupid), who moves through the woods in the season of Spring, aiming his passion tipped arrows that pierce the heart at all who cross his path, from his bow made of sweet sugarcane strung with humming bees.

Legend has it that shortly after Shiva's consort sati committed suicide due to the disgrace shown by her father, Daksha to Lord Shiva, Shiva became sad and started to meditate. Meanwhile, the daughter of the mountains, Parvati, started meditating to acquire Lord Shiva as the husband. Since Lord Shiva was least interested in the world, all the God became concerned and afraid. They approached Kaama and asked him to shoot his arrow on Lord Shiva so that he gets back to his original self and marry Parvati. So, Kaama went and shot his arrow but Lord Shiva was angered and opened his third eye and burnt Kaama to ashes. Shiva then looked towards Paarvati and fructified her penance by marrying her.

The grief stricken Rati, Kamdev's wife, then beseeches Lord Shiva for mercy. Shiva relents and partly restores Kamadeva to Rati. Though she can see him, he remains without physical form 'anang'. The songs sung here are the stories of Rati's lamentations. Another interpretation is that Parvati (Siva's consort) brings Kamadeva back to life and the day he breathed again is celebrated as Holi. Thus, Holi is also considered as a festival that celebrates love.

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