We attracted some attention sitting under our tree. We stand out a little... We were encouraged to go and ‘take a closer look’. There, we witnessed the ceremony. A man was kneeling infront of the small statue depicting the image of his god. Standing at each side of him were the two ‘interesting men’ holding a yellow sheet draped over him. Under the sheet a man worked, piercing the needles and spikes into his skin. He kneeled, eyes closed, slightly pursing his lips as if he was in a trance. When the needles on his back were finished he rose. The drums began to beat dramatically! He danced holding a stick of bamboo with leaves bunched together on one section. It was almost like he was trying to psyche himself for the next half of the torture! Ow!! There was a small fire burning in a metal plate. He picked the plate up, dipped his fingers in the ash and flicked them towards peoples’ faces. He then placed a dot on their foreheads. After, he settled back in front of the small statue and hooks were pierced into his chest and then small limes and onions were hung from the hooks. I'm still not sure if they had any purpose! Again, he rose and began to dance, but this time he jingled! It turned out there were small bells on the hooks!
We were quite shocked/intrigued about the whole thing, so we asked some friendly people standing next to us about the purpose of the Ceremony. They explained that we were witnessing a Tamil Ceremony. The men we were seeing had sacrificed their pain to the gods as a prayer for sick loved ones, family and friends etc. But then… the worst part happened... As if it wasn’t bad enough watching them pierce the needles into their backs, arms and chest! One woman began to dance (a little crazily – it almost seemed like she was possessed). She collapsed and was supported while she knelt infront of the statue and a man pierced a needle through her tongue! Ow Ow Owwww! At this point I started to feel more than a little squeamish! Needles were then stabbed through the other men’s tongues and people gathered to sing and pray infront of the statue.
|After Tamil Ceremony - Curepipe|
We decided not to continue watching the ceremony. Apparently, they were about to walk on fire or shoes of nails (we were slightly confused with the translations). Plus, we had to catch the bus home – very inconvenient how the buses stop at 7!
So, my first Tamil Religious Ceremony! It was a little shocking… but overall we were really glad that we stayed to watch! I wouldn’t recommend it for the squeamish though... Ha!