Aadi Festival

The following photos intend to document one of the most impressive and bizarre Hindu ceremonies . It takes its name from the fourth month of their calendar (Aadi). This religious ritual takes place within the Tamil community (Tamilar), mainly in the province of Tamil Nadu in Southeast India; although it can be spotted in other countries where this community lives, such as Malaysia, Indonesia or Sri Lanka. It takes place between mid-July and mid-August, matching the fourth month of the Tamil calendar, celebrating their devotion to the birth of Lord Murugan and his killing of Soorapadman, a vengeful spirit, with a spear. They show such devotion through painful piercings around the body, including the tongue. Over time, the rituals have become more dramatic, colorful, and bloody, with large spears and hooks through the chest and face. Surprisingly, some children, can be seen wearing  miniature 'vels' (steel spears) pierced through their cheeks. Some adults, have their tongue and cheeks pierced too, and what is more impressive, with a thick and long - up to two meters - spear.

A teenager carrying a Kavadi, two semicircular pieces of wood or steel which are bent and attached to a cross structure that can be balanced on the shoulders. It will be attached to the devotee through 108 vels pierced into the skin on the chest and back. 

Lady smearing a devote's face with ashes.

Flowers necklaces are always seen in these kind of ceremonies.

All important figures within the ritual will be given flowers.


Little or sometimes -surprisingly- no pain is spotted on the devotees' faces, throughout the process of having long metalic rods pierced through their cheeks.

A kavadi bearer not only carries a gift for God but the whole kavadi is seen as a shrine for God Himself. The same could be applied to the tridents or rods on their cheeks.


Some of them will start rolling on the floor and acting as if they were possesed, writhing and screaming. 

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