Clicky

badge

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Tamil Festival ThaiPusam celebrations in Singapore

Thai Pusam is an annual tamil ritual celebrated by Tamilians all over the world. But I was oblivious to this festival. I might have seen some video clips of this festival, but don't remember seeing this ritual live so far. May be I didn't pay attention.

During my recent Singapore visit, we were staying at a hotel near Little India...The famous Srinivasa Perumal temple was just a block away. As we were walking around, we could see preparations in progress for some big celebration, but we didn't know exact event details.

Last Sunday morning, I was heading out towards metro station and I had to pass through Srinivasa Perumal temple. I saw this man all walking in a possession with arrows piercing his body. I took a few photos and posted to facebook- veteran bloggers Nisha Jha and Lakshmi Sharath identified the ritual and filled in key details. Thus I realized this ritual is part of Thai Pusam celebrations and did some readings to understand more about this.

He had a decorated crown, supported by a frame whose weight is distributed on the man's shoulders and waist. Plus dozens of arrows pierced into his back and abdomen. The whole setup is reportedly called Kavadi.

Srinivasa Perumal temple is near Farrer Park station. After witnessing the above, I took metro to Dobhi Ghat- my plan was to go to Istana and take a look at president's palace. (learnt later that Istana is not open to public. Makemytrip lists this Istana as one of the attractions in Singapore. But As I hit the street, I could see a large convoy of devotees with Kavadis of different shape and size and decoration. I forgot Istana for the moment and spent next 30 minutes observing the crowd and clicking pictures. Below are some of the best ones.



There were a few women too, with much milder levels of body piercing.




This little girl, who herself is carrying a weight, is looking curiously at the kavadi bearer ahead of her who has small pots hooked to his back.
Kavadi bearers included small kids, men in their thirties and older men.
Thai Pusam festival commemorates the occasion when lord Murugan got a safety accessory- a  divine spear with sharp ends, known as Vel. Apparently Kavadi bearers invite all the pain of having their body pierced as a part of ceremonial sacrifice during the festival. More about this festival in Wikipedia.

What are your thoughts on this ritual?

I could see that special traffic arrangements were made for this festival in Singapore. One lane on the road was earmarked for the people participating in the possession. At each road cross point, police assisted by Volunteers from Tamil community coordinated pedestrian crossings.

Overall, getting to witness this ritual was an unexpected bonus of my Singapore trip.

4 comments :

Shaivi said...

Gosh! i am scared even when I have to get an injection and look at these people! Seeing the pics only gave me goosebumps! What passion and devotion!

Swati & Sam said...

This looks so scary .. why do people have to do all this in the name of faith ...

http://thetalesofatraveler.com/2016/01/15/kempinski-resort-review-seychelles/

Arun Prasadh said...

Thaipusam is a famous function in lord murugan temples. Piercing the body happens in most Murugan temples. Nice pics.

Shrinidhi Hande said...

@Arun: Yes, I was oblivious to it... didn't pay much attention in India

@Swati- Yes, devotion makes people do lots of things..

@Shaivi- lot of things happen in the name of religion.. as long as person participates with his own will, no comments...