The Hindu communities residing in Southern India especially in the Kannyakumari region of Tamil Nadu observe the festival of Holi in a slightly different way and it goes by the name Kaman Pandigai.
This festival is essentially associated with the well – known legend of Shiva burning up Kamdev who was the God of love, into ashes. It’s said that on the auspicious occasion of Holi was Rati the wife of Kamdev able to plead Shiva into making him revive her husband.
This festival is also known as Kamavilas or Kama – Dahanam and is generally observed on the day before Holi. Just like Holi, this festival is also found to occur generally in the month of March.
The story goes that after the death of Sati, Shiva’s beloved, he went into deep meditation and this indifference created a total imbalance in the universe. During this time Parvati who was the daughter of the mountains too started meditating to attain Shiva as her husband.
After undergoing several years of penance, Sati was reborn as Parvati. But even after that, Shiva continued with his meditation and nobody was able to break it. All the Gods became worried and in order to make Shiva return back to his original self, they sought the help of Kaamadeva who was the God of love. In spite of knowing what repercussions he may have to undergo, he still agreed to help the tensed Gods and do good to the world.
While Shiva was in deep meditation, he was shot by Kaamadeva with the love – arrow. Shiva became so enraged that he opened his third eye and instantly reduced Kaamadeva to ashes. But his love arrow had produced the desired results and Shiva agreed to marry Parvati. After the whole incident got over, Rati, the wife of Kaamadeva worshipped Shiva and after a tough penance, was able to recite the whole tale to Shiva and requested him to revive her husband. After listening to the entire tale, Shiva agreed to revive her husband and blessed her on Holi day.
This festival is celebrated in two different moods. One is that of sorrow and mourning because Kaamadeva had died during this time. The other happy and celebratory emotion was due to the Rati getting blessed from Shiva on this day and her husband getting revived. On this day, people offer Sandalwood to Kaamadeva with the intention of easing the pain of burning. Songs are sung that portray feelings of sorrow and mourn the death of Kaamadeva. There is an altar that’s raised for more than ten days after which on the full moon day, its set ablaze and sugarcanes are thrown into the fire. Prior to this there was general mourning among the people but, after this there is merriment and two people dressed as Rati and Kaamadeva go around collecting money.