I finally managed to go take pictures of Thaipusam in Singapore a couple of weeks’ ago! As a little girl (a long time ago), I was afraid of Thaipusam as the Indian men I saw carried heavy kavadis and had their skin, cheeks and tongues pierced with some pretty sharp instruments or ‘vels’. None of the children at the temple I saw though, were afraid!
Being all grown up now, I find Thaipusam a fascinating festival. Fascinating because the festival always brings out hundreds of thousands of Hindu worshippers who attend this festival to seek blessings, fulfill vows and to offer thanks. It is held during the full moon in the 10th Tamil month known as ‘Thai”. Many devotees start off their day early at the Sri Perumal temple in Serangoon Road and end at the Sri Thandayuthapani Temple in Tank Road -throughout the procession there is much chanting, kavadi carrying and drum beating. Very colourful but HEAVY:
The kavadi carriers, followed by their relatives and friends, would carry their very heavy kavadis all the way to Tank Road, while their friends and relatives chanted and beat drums along the way. Roads along which the major hindu temples are found were closed off from 3.00 am till the 8.00 am the day after. It can be terribly exhausting, as you can see from the resting devotees here:
Devotees however, are well taken care off after they full fill their vows, from soothing minor wounds incurred from carrying the kavadi to a simple vegetarian meal.
I mentioned that Thaipusam is also colourful and I managed to get some close ups of the kavadi as well as the feathers and tassels that adorn it.
Always spending time out of the country during the Thaipusam festival, I’m glad that I managed to catch it in my home base this year. If you plan to visit Singapore or Malaysia during January or February, plan it around Thaipusam. You will be rewarded with lasting memories and a camera full of unusual pictures!