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Kaman Pandigai – Holi in Tamilnadu Dedicated to Kama and Rati

Holi is a festival that is largely ignored in the southern parts of India. But some Hindu communities in some regions observe Holi here too but slightly differently. In Kanyakumari region in Tamilnadu, Holi is known as Kaman Pandigai and is associated with the popular legend of Lord Shiva burning Kamdev, the Hindu God of love, into ashes. The popular belief is that Rati, the consort of Kama, was able to revive Kamdev with the blessings of Lord Shiva on the Holi day.

The main ritual involves sing songs depicting Rati’s despair and offering sandalwood paste to Kama to ease the pain of burning.

Legend has it that Hindu God Shiva went into deep meditation after the death of his consort, Sati. As per Hindu religious scriptures, Shiva represents ‘matter’ and Sati or Parvati, ‘shakti or energy’. With Shiva entering into meditation means there was total imbalance. Without Shiva and Shakti acting in consonance, human life would come to a standstill.

So Sati was later reborn as Parvati. But Shiva continued with his meditation. Parvati did penance for several years to get Shiva as husband but all her efforts went in vain. Nobody could break Shiva’s meditation.

On advice from Hindu God Brahma and God Vishnu, Devas asked Kama, the god of love, to kindle amorous feelings in Shiva. Kama knew that this would invite the wrath of Shiva but for the sake of the universe he fired the love-arrow at Shiva.

Shiva, angered by this, opened his third eye and destroyed Kama instantly – he was turned into ashes. Rati, the consort of Kama, performed severe penance to get back her husband and Shiva promised her that Kama would return to her but will remain formless or ananga to everyone but her and Rati got this blessing on the Holi day.