Kavadi Experience Eduardo

Eduardo Chavarria did a kavadi ritual on March 14, 2005 and I had the chance to talk with him about his experience.

EK: Do you remember your first contact with kavadi?

The first time I saw a picture was in the book Modern Primitives, at about age twenty. The first time I saw it in person was also the first time I put spears in someone. I was working with the performance group CoRE when this happened.

EK: What was it that make you want to do the ritual?

At first my quest began with suspension, just in search of a spiritual event in my life. After that I tried to learn to live on a spiritual path, doing many suspensions and energy pulls as well as cheek spearing and minor blood letting. One day I felt ready enough to say out loud that I wanted to do kavadi — it took four years for the event to happen after I put it out to the world. I wanted to make sure I did everything right, and needed more insight as to what I was going to do.

EK: Which preparation you did before the ritual?

When I decided it was going to happen, I looked at a calender and gave myself a 42 day cleansing period. At first I gave up things in my life that were unnecessary — the things I just did out of being glutenous and lazy, and the things I just took for granted. I cut out caffeine, sex and masturbation, processed sugars, medicine prescribed or over the counter, drugs and alcohol, and I didn’t go out or socialize. After twenty days of this I found it wasn’t enough and I cut all meats out of my diet as well. The night before my ritual I did food and sleep deprivation. On the 42nd day I did my ritual.

EK: You had your own frame and spears?

Because I was working with CoRE, we had built a frame already, which we made almost like “one size fits all” — it could be broken down to fit anyone of any size. I did help build it from scratch, but it is a community frame. Because I was part of a performance group we did kavadi for performances, but I did not want to do it then because I wanted mine to be ritual. Once we engineered the plans we built the belt and frame, and it has been used successfully by at least five different people. The group still has it and uses it.

EK: What was your general state of mind, and how did you feel physically in the hours before the ritual?

Before we gathered I was very at peace with myself and my surroundings. I was full of life and energy. Upon entering my ritual ground I felt as if what I was doing was meant to be and that everything was right — but the moment my facilitators and friends arrived, I began to get a little nervous. I called them close to me to share my energy, and also shared it with those that couldn’t be present. Once everything was set I explained to everyone what this meant to me and why I was doing it. I had a little grounding ceremony previous to my ritual to make sure no one was overwhelmed at what was going on.

Then it began.

EK: How was the weather that day?

The weather was beautiful — especially for March in Texas. It is usually raining a lot and starting to get hot and humid, but the day I did my kavadi it was beautiful. The skies were clear, and the air seemed very clean for Houston. It was not humid at all and there was a cool breeze in the air, even during the hottest part of the day. During the evening when I did my ritual it was a clear sky with lots of stars.

EK: What was your impression of receiving the spears, and was there a method of putting them in with breaks or was it all at once?

I really only remember the first three spears vividly. At first I wanted them all in at once. The first one opened my body completely from the opening of my feet through the chakra in my head. I never knew the things this would bring to me. The second spear was blissful, and by the third I was in a trance state and I opened up completely and let my inner spirit come out of the body. I remember my friends did not know what to do so they all placed hands on me and did not start putting spears back in me until I was out of my trance. From that point forward it’s very blurry but they continued consistently until all twenty spears were in.

EK: In which form you did the kavadi — walking or dancing?

Originally I wanted to do a one mile walk on the beach, but it is hard to plan stuff like that. I found a very good spot once I decided on a date an danced the kavadi. One day though I do plan to do it how I originally intended — I would love to walk one mile on the beach with the spears.

EK: What was your state of consciousness during the ritual?

I was in a very peaceful and blissful state. I could feel the vibrations and energy of the earth and my friends. I was in nirvana. Mentally I was gone and in my own world, and physically I was only a carcass of flesh — my spirit was traveling everywhere.

EK: Was there live music being played and did you interact with it?

No live music. I wanted everyone present to really be able to see and feel the changes happening. I pre-recorded some drumming music from the group “Crash Worship”. I picked all my favorite songs from the cds and made one compilation cd. It was the best music for me to stay focused with.

EK: How long was the ritual?

Roughly twelve hours. My day started at noon with personal preparation and the gathering of the alter items, making food offerings, meditating, and so on. I had my friends and family start to gather at around 6pm at the designated area. I had arrived an hour earlier to clean the area and to be ready to receive them. Between building the cage and getting the spears ready it got to be about 7:30pm. Fifteen minutes later I had an opening circle with my friends by a little after 8pm we began everything. I started with a cheek spear and continued from there.

EK: What did it feel like when the spears were taken out?

The spears felt like they were being pulled out of the ground and through my head — a beautiful and awkward feeling.

EK: Did you spiritually profit from the kavadi ritual?

It was the first time I had an out of body experience. I have had spiritual experiences through suspension, sweat lodges, and energy pulling, but kavadi was the most blissful experience.

Afterwards I had a feeling of accomplishment and the feeling of being re-born. I knew that after waiting as long as I had, and going through what i went through, there was nothing in life I couldn’t — can’t — do.

EK: After you did the ritual kavadi, you’ve now done one in a performance as well. What was that like?

The performance was different — I never wanted to do it for performance. I felt it was too personal. The reason I did it for the performance was because my best friend Neil was in the hospital due to heart failure. He was the one that was supposed to do the performance, and the hospital did not know if he was going to make it, so I did it for him and asked for his health to improve. It was very different because I kept myself present for the experience and just thought of him and his family. Every time I got a spear, I prayed for him. I took it and released the pain into the world. Even dancing around felt different — I was putting on a show to entertain an audience, so everything about it was different from the ritual I had done.

EK: What do you think about your original kavadi experience and how you did it?

I think that with all ritual the most important part is the intention. I would not change in any way the way I did my first one — the way I prepared myself was reflected in the experience. As long as your intentions are pure, I think there is no inappropriate way to do ritual.

EK: Would you like to do another kavadi?

At some point when the time is right, yes. When it is meant to happen I’ll get a sign and I will seek out a facilitator. I do have my own spears, and once I am shown that it is time to do it again I will build my own cage.

Kavadinfo likes to thank Eduardo for sharing his experience.

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