Idumban and Kavadi
Sage Agastya wanted to take two hills —
Sivagiri and Sakthigiri — to his abode in the South and commissioned his
disciple Idumban to carry them. Idumban bore the hills slung across his
shoulders, in the form of a kavadi one on either side. When he was
fatigued, he placed the kavadi near Palani to take rest.
At this stage, Subrahmanya or Muruga had
been outwitted in a contest for going round the world. Ganapati had won the
prized fruit (pomegranate or mango) by simply going round His parents. Long
after, this, Subrahmanya came sweating on His peacock to find that the prize had
already been given away. In anger, the frustrated child left the divine parents
and came down to Tiru Avinankudi at the Adivaram (pronounced Adivâram. It means
foot of the Sivagiri Hill). Siva pacified Him by saying that He (Subrahmanya)
Himself was the fruit (pazham) of all wisdom and knowledge; nee
—you. Hence the place was called 'Pazham Nee' or Palani. Later, He
withdrew to the hill and settled there as a recluse in peace and solitude.
When Idumban resumed his journey, he could
not lift the hill. Muruga had made it impossible for Idumban to make it. In the
fierce battle that ensued, Idumban was killed but was later on restored to life.
Idumban prayed that:
whosoever carried on his shoulders the
Kavadi, signifying the two hills and visited the temple on a vow, should be
he should be given the privilege of
standing sentinel at the entrance to the hill.
Hence we have the Idumban shrine halfway
up the hill where every pilgrim is expected to offer obeisance to Idumban before
entering the temple of Dandâyudhapani. Since then, pilgrims to Palani bring
their offerings on their shoulders in a kavadi. The custom has spread
from Palani to all Muruga shrines worldwide.