Dragging a Ratha
The dragging with ropes of a miniature ratha or Ther i..e,
ear tied to hooks planted on the back of the devotee is a
symbol of physical pain. People are prepared to invite
on themselves . For miles and miles the devotee walks, dragging
the cart in the hot sun for hours, on mindful of the anguish, uttering
all the way the name of the deity. Even his tongue is pulled out and a
silver pin is inserted to hold the tongue in the desired position.
The pin is a miniature vel or lance, the weapon of Muruga.
All along the path, onlookers pour cold water,
rose water and sandal -paste on the devotees to
alleviate the effects of the burning sun. This ritual testifies to the
pronounced religious fevour of devout Hindus. vis-a
vis the silent rituals observed by many in their
private homes. After a long and tiring trip as a finish to
the ritual, fire walking awaits them. Backed in the
hot sun, with torturing pins oppressing the tongue,
the flesh on the back is literally being pulled out, the limbs carving
for rest, the devotees walk over the fire, treating the scorching
embers, as soft cotton pieces spread to soothe their
feet . After this, the pot of milk, sandal paste or holy ashes kept
in the car are taken out and poured over the deity. The devotee
stand in front of the idol in a super eminent frame, beyond
the realm of bodily pain, perhaps in the higher reaches of
mind, which perceives divinity at the fountain source.
While playing the equine role, the devotees
wear nailed wooden sandals. In spite of all the torture,
they do not feel any pain. Persons who wish to take this role undergo
very severe ordeals like observing fast for whole month.