Origin of Thaipusam
Skanda was created during one of the battles between the Asuras and the Devas. The Devas were unable to resist the attack of the Asura forces. They approached Shiva and pleaded to give them an able leader under whose leadership they gain victory over the Asuras. They surrendered themselves completely and prayed to Shiva. Shiva created the mighty warrior, Skanda, out of his own power. He assumed leadership of the Devas and inspired them and defeated the Asura forces. In order to recognize that day the people created the festival.
Kavadi in Thaipusam
Kavadi Attam is a dance performed by the devotees during the ceremonial worship of Lord Muruga. It is performed during the festival of Thaipusam and emphasizes debt bondage. The Kavadi is a physical burden through which the devotees implore for help from the Lord Muruga.
Hindus take a vow to offer a kavadi to idol for the purpose of tiding over or averting a great calamity. Kavadi-bearers have to perform elaborate ceremonies at the time of assuming the kavadi and at the time of offering it to Murugan. The kavadi-bearer observes chastity and takes only pure, Satvik food, once a day, while thinking of God.
On the day of the festival, devotees will shave their heads and undertake a pilgrimage along a route while engaging in various acts of devotion, notably carrying various types of kavadi (burdens). At its simplest this may entail carrying a pot of milk, but mortification of the flesh by piercing the skin, tongue or cheeks with vel skewers is also common.
The simplest kavadi is a semicircular decorated canopy that supported by a wooden rod carried on the shoulders, to the temple. Some have a small spear through their tongue, or a spear through the cheeks which reminds him constantly of Lord Murugan. It prevents him from speaking and gives great power of endurance. Other types involve hooks stuck into the back and either pulled by another walking behind or being hung from a decorated bullock cart or more recently a tractor, with the point of incisions of the hooks varying the level of pain