Thaipusam which falls in the Tamil month of Thai is an annual procession by Hindu devotees seeking blessings, fulfilling vows and offering thanks. Thaipusam is celebrated in honour of Lord Subrahmanya (also known as Lord Murugan) who represents virtue, youth and power to Hindus and is the destroyer of evil. The festival generally lasts for two days.
On the first day before Thaipusam, a statue of Lord Subrahmanya decorated with jewels and finery and together with his two consorts, Valli and Devayani, is placed on a chariot and brought in procession. In Singapore, the chariot procession begins from the Sri Srinivasa Perumal Temple at Serangoon Road to the Layan Sithi Vinayagar Temple at Keong Saik Road. The procession symbolises the blessings sought by Lord Subrahmanya from his elder brother Lord Vinayagar.
Thaipusam ceremony starts in the early hours of the morning when the first batch of devotees of Lord Subrahmanya carrying milk pots and wooden kavadis leave Sri Sriniyasa Perumal Temple to Sri Thendayuthapani Temple at Tank Road. The milk in the pots they carry is offered to the deity of Lord Subrahmanya at Sri Thendayuthapani Temple. Some devotees pierce their tongues with skewers and carry a garlanded wooden arch across their shoulders. Other devotees may carry a kavadi (semi circular metal structure decorated with peacock feathers, flowers and palm leaves).
In preparation for carrying a kavadi, a devotee has to prepare himself spiritually. For a period about a month, the devotee must live a life of abstinence whilst maintaining a strict vegetarian diet. It is believed that only when the mind is free of materials wants and the body is free from physical pleasures that a devotee can undertake the sacred task without feeling any pain.
(From Hindu Endowment Board Singapore website)
The next ten pictures are the first series from Thaipusam festival in Singapore, 29th - 30th January 2010.
Pic 1 of 10: The 1st series of Thaipusam 2010.