Celebrations in South India

In South India, where Holi is called Kamavilas, Kaman Pandugai and Kaman-dahanam. The legend prevalent in South India is that of Kamdev-the Love God (the Hindu equivalent of Cupid), who moves through the woods in the season of Spring, aiming his passion tipped arrows that pierce the heart at all who cross his path, from his bow made of sweet sugarcane strung with humming bees.

The story goes that once, in his foolishness, he aimed his love tipped arrow at the mighty Shiva deep in meditation. The angered Lord Shiva opens his third eye (the eye of destruction on his forehead) and reduces Kamdev to ashes. The grief stricken Rati, Kamdev's wife, beseeches Lord Shiva for mercy. Shiva relents and partly restores Kamdev to Rati. Though she can see him, he remains without physical form. The songs sung here are the stories of Rati's lamentations. Another interpretation is that Parvati (Siva's consort) brings Kamdev back to life and the day he breathed again is celebrated as Holi.

Holi is not celebrated with as much intensity in the south as that in North India. But people do indulge in merrymaking. As already mentioned the legend of Kamdev is quite prevalent in this part of the nation. The folk songs narrate the tragic story of Kamdev and Rati. 

Holi is popularly known as Kamadahana in Tamil Nadu. The folk songs sung during Holi are melancholic songs, which narrate the pathetic tale of Rati, the wife of Kamdev. As mentioned above the festival marks the victory of spiritual bliss over material desires. Yet this festival is also celebrated as the festival of Love.


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