Thaipoosam Cavadee (Kavadi) 2020, Port-Louis • Mauritius (EN)

Get ready to dive into an immersive experience of less than 15 minutes, in the heart of vibrant Mauritius, where tradition and modernity meet. Come and discover the Cavadee procession, a spectacular Tamil ceremony in honor of the god Muruga. This video will take you through the streets of Port Louis, illuminated by the fervor and devotion of the participants. The sacred burdens, the "Cavadee", the silver "vels", symbols of the spear of the god Muruga, asceticism, fasting, pain and spiritual ecstasy; all of these elements come together to create a mesmerizing celebration, a sight you can't miss. A detailed text accompanies the video, illuminating the cultural context of this fascinating island, rich in its multiple influences and its unique history. Embark on this visual and cultural exploration.

This film was made on the basis of photos and videos taken during the trip Mauritius • Cavadee 2020 / Reunion (EN)

vimeo chapterA click on this icon above displays the list of chapters of this film about Mauritius. A click on a dot goes directly to a chapter.

Reading the text below will help you better understand the cultural context of the images in this video.

00:20 • Thaipoosam cavadee • the legend

02:18 • Cavadee in Port-Louis

02:27 • at Vishnu Kchetre Mandir temple

03:20 • the departure of the procession

08:41 • Arrival at Arulmigu Sockalingum Meenatchee Ammen Tirukkovil (Kaylasson) temple.



Unlike the Antilles Islands, Mauritius in the Indian Ocean was uninhabited when the first Europeans arrived in the early 17th century. If many Indian tribes populated the Antilles, Mauritius a wild island where wildlife could develop at ease. By a curious coincidence, few predators had settled on this small island in the middle of the Indian Ocean, which allowed nonchalant animals like the Dodo, a bird that had long forgotten the techniques of flight, to multiply.

Mauritius served above all as a stopover on the long road to India. The first Europeans to settle in Mauritius were the Dutch who gave the name of their prince to this new discovery, Maurice of Orange Nassau. With the first settlers also appeared the first predators for the local fauna, cats and rats taken by the boats.

Various nationalities succeeded one another at the helm of the island, but this is not the subject of this film.

Work on the sugar plantations

Over time, more and more settlers settled on the island, developing the sugar industry. The sugar cane plantations were labor intensive. And as was the custom at that time, European settlers called in free labor, slaves imported from the east coast of Africa.

The arrival of Indian workers

Slavery being called to disappear, either by the action of the revolts, or because of a growing opposition to this system in Europe, it was necessary to find other solutions. It was in 1834 that the first convoy of "hired workers" arrived from India. For the most part, these were poor workers looking for work to escape starvation, but it cannot be ruled out that a number of them were coerced and forced, much like slaves, to emigrate to Mauritius.

A big difference, however, if Indian workers received poverty wages, slaves worked for free ...

Most of the Indians embarked for Mauritius were from the Malabar Coast, now Tamil Nadu, in southern India. These workers brought with them their beliefs and traditions.


One of these traditions from South India is the Cavadee. The Cavadee is a ritual procession in honor of the god Muruga, son of Shiva. Muruga is a very important god in the Tamil pantheon. The beginning of the film tells about one of the legends concerning the origin of the processions in his honor.

After fasting for ten days, the participants in this procession go to the main temple carrying burdens (cavadee or kavadi) on their shoulders to atone for their sins. Some pierce their skin with "vels", a kind of silver needle symbolizing the lance of the god Muruga.

Very impressive devotional ceremonies, the Mauritius Cavadee is a highlight in the religious calendar of the Tamils ​​(called Tamils ​​in Mauritius).

The Cavadee or Kavadi is a large Tamil procession in honor of the god Muruga. The faithful go in procession to the temple by carrying on their head a cavadee (sort of portable altar in honor of the god) and many pierce their skin with silver "vel", sort of lance (miniature) being part , with the peacock of the representation of the god Muruga.

about the place, Port Louis:

Port Louis is the capital of Mauritius.

During the French period, Mauritius was called Ile de France. The capital owes its name to King Louis XV.

The city has about 150,000 inhabitants.

a penitent, Port Louis, Mauritius • Mauritius

What's the weather like in Port Louis?


Spoken comments in the film: 

Shiva the Destroyer is part of the Trinity of Supreme Hindu Gods with Brahma the Creator and Vishnu the Protector. With his wife Parvati, he lives in Mount Kailash, and they had among other children, Ganesh, the elephant-headed god and Karttikeya, the leader of the divine armies, also named Subramania, known as Muruga or Murugan in the South. of India and in the countries of the Indian diaspora, such as Mauritius and Reunion.

The sage Agatthyar asked his disciple Indunban to carry the two mountains surrounding Mount Kaylash to the south of the country.

On the way to Idumban the god Muruga turned into a child and decided to complicate his task by increasing his burden.

Indumban not knowing that this child was in fact the god Muruga got angry and hit the child.

Muruga got angry and killed Indumban.

Learning of this incident, the sage Agattiyâr implored Muruga to forgive him.


The Cavadee procession is preceded by 10 days of fasting for the participants.

Many devotees wear small copper pots on their heads. These jars contain milk which will be offered to the god Muruga on arrival at the temple, the goal of the procession.

One of Muruga's attributes is his scepter which bears the name "vel". Some of the faithful prick their skin with silver needles. These needles recall the shape of the vel de Muruga.

The vel is also placed in the mouth (sometimes crossing the cheeks and the tongue) to materialize the participant's wish for silence.

Sometimes the vel is also replaced by hooks to which lemons are attached.

Distribution of panakon (refreshing drink made from lime and tamarind)



 - YouTube video library - Action Time

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Disclaimer: Despite its appropriateness, copyright issues prevent the use of mauritian traditional music in "Thaipoosam Cavadee (Kavadi) 2020, Port-Louis • Mauritius (EN)", hence the use of royalty-free music. Despite our careful selection, some might regret this decision, which is necessary to avoid potential lawsuits. Although difficult, this decision is the only viable solution.

penitent with lemons hanging on his body, Port Louis • Mauritius

penitent with lemons hanging on his body

man wearing large flowered cavadee, Port Louis • Mauritius

man wearing large flowered cavadee

Tamil musicians accompanying the procession, Port Louis • Mauritius

Tamil musicians accompanying the procession

purification at the entrance of the Kaylasson temple, at the end of the procession, Port Louis • Mauritius

purification at the entrance of the Kaylasson temple, at the end of the procession

Port-Louis, Mauritius

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