Thaipusam 2012 – Introduction
Thaipusam is a Hindu festival celebrated by the Tamil community in Malaysia, Singapore and other parts of the world.
The festival commemorates the goddess Parvathi giving the ‘vel‘ spear to Lord Murugan to defeat the evil asuras (demons). There are other legends surrounding the festival which you can read from here.
On this day, devotees carry the kavadi, a physical burden, and join in a procession. Here, in Singapore, the kavadi bearers walk from the Sri Srinivasa Perumal Temple to the Sri Thandayuthapani Temple, a 4 kilometres journey.
The kavadi comes in many shapes and sizes beautifully decorated with flowers, peacock feathers and various offerings. The amount of detail and craftsmanship that goes into each kavadi is astounding.
As if carrying the kavadi on a long journey on foot wasn’t enough, the kavadi bearers perform various acts of self-torture piercing their bodies with hooks and spikes. The bearer’s great faith and belief in Lord Murugan prevents him from feeling any pain or bleeding when pierced.
Also, one does not simply decide overnight to bear the kavadi. The bearers follow a strict period of abstinence to cleanse their body of sins before the big day.
Woman do not bear the kavadi and facial piercings are optional. Instead they join the procession carrying heavy jugs of milk while accompanying the kavadi bearers.
At the end of the journey, the kavadi and piercings are removed from the bearers. Exhausted as they may be, they can rest easy knowing that all they’ve done on this holy day has greatly pleased Lord Murugan.