Performed in reverence of the Hindu god of war, Lord Murugan, Kavadi Attam or the burden dance is a type of ceremonial sacrifice and offering. While it is, in essence, a ritual, there is a high degree of coordination and choreography involved in the dance. 

The dance originated centuries ago, when the ancient Tamil communities used to embark on long pilgrimages, carrying offerings for their God on their shoulders, attached to one end of a long stick. It is said that in order to stave off boredom during the lengthy journey, the devotees started writing songs and performing dances for the deities. This culminated in the formation of Kavadi Attam, performed only by men, who balance pots filled with milk or coconut water attached to either end of a long pole. 

It is generally performed during the Thaipusam Festival. The preparations for the festival start 48 days prior, during which the devotees shave their heads and purify themselves by praying constantly and eating only vegetarian meals. 

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