Hindus inflict corporal punishment in Val-Morin

cinq-hommes-passe-cinq-heuresThere are a thousand things that an Ontario tourist can come for a summer Sunday in the Laurentians. But Alex has not visited Val-Morin, yesterday, to admire the tall pines or to make pedal. The great Toronto rather came to be piercing the body. Literally, on the occasion of the feast Kavadi.

At the edge of the trees, Alex is lying on the muddy ground of a yoga camp.

Around him, men in vetti (a kind of loincloth) are activated. With towering hooks, they pierce her body skin in eight places. Two rods in the back skin; others, again, behind the thighs and calves. Alex bites in a cloth, but do not shout. A new metal spike through his cheek, then another.

In one ceremony, there are devotees who cry “Arohara”. This is how Hindus implore their gods.

“I pray that it does not hurt,” said the believer few seconds earlier. He is in his fifth experiment of its kind.

The Hindu is raised three meters in the air. Since only suspended, he said hooks which stretch his skin.

Four men imitate. “He was very concerned. He wanted to free himself of many things, “said Sujeeva Arunthavanayagam when asked why her husband fleet, too, above the ground.

Dozens of other pilgrims hooks, more or less large, crossing their backs. They will dance for more than five hours, while comrades will shoot, sometimes with surprising force on the staples that make their skin slightly bleeding.

A catharsis

If several rituals serve cathartic ambitions, then the Kavadi festival, celebrated annually by Tamils, is certainly no exception. In honor of the war god, Murugan, thousands of devotees converge for over 20 years to Val-Morin, a peaceful place chosen by the Indian yogi Swami Vishnudevananda in 1962.

The ceremony, repeated several Hindus used to get rid of the sins of the previous year, and of that to come too.

And pain? Like many penitents, Alex finds a way to raise their eyebrows to indicate that all is well. He moves his arms, up and down, never let go of the spear – the vel by Hindu – he holds in one hand.

Around him, dozens of women walk dragging containers filled with offerings (milk, most of the time) on their heads. Men pierced the back will éreintent dancing. After the march, many will collapse to the ground. Or trance.

“Music control us. We give it our soul, “says Kanthan Rasalingam, after recovering from a” spiritual communication “that made his knees give out, rolled his eyes and shook his body frantically.

Watching the scene, one question seems obvious: why?

Because it has always been like that, or because it is “what we do,” says the anthropologist from the University of Connecticut Xygalatas Dimitris, who got this response, most of the time, the part of Hindu devotees observe it six years now, since he studied Kavadi since many years.

“Some say they ask for favors to god Murugan and they thank him for luck, for fulfilling a promise,” as the anthropologist observes that La Presse has joined Mauritius, where he is studying Hindu rituals.

Especially painful ceremonies encourage social cohesion, discovered the professor throughout his studies. “It seems possible that suffering for a cause should ensure that people give more value to this cause,” he says.

To see all these men back swollen, in the undulating streets of Val-Morin, one would tend to believe in his hypothesis. They will therefore probably many to return next year, when the skin of their back will be healed.

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