Thaipusam is one of the most physically demanding of religious festivals, and it is a challenge for believers as well as a stunning spectacle for non-believers. From Serangoon Road, kavadi bearers walk three to seven-foot-high structures of wood or steel and brace themselves for a 4.5km trek from Sri Srinivasa Perumal Temple to Sri Thandayuthapani Temple at Tank Road. Some devotees also pierce their tongues, torsos, and lips with hooks and skewers attached to the kavadi if that isn’t stressful enough in a physical manner.
Devotees praise their god along the route to Sri Thandayuthapani Temple, also known as Murugan Temple or Chettiar’s Temple. Locals and visitors alike wait with camera equipment beside the kavadi-bearers’ and supporters’ special lanes, roaring them on.
The Hindu deity Murugan is revered during Thaipusam, one of Singapore’s most colourful and enormous outdoor processions. It is a Hindu religious event that is essentially a procession in which Hindu devotees seek blessings, make vows, and give thanks. The 10th Tamil month is the month of Phalgun and the full moon falls on February 19. It takes place during the peak of the moon, known as “pusam” (when the moon is at its brightest).
The Thai New Year’s Day celebration in Singapore begins at the Srinivasa Perumal Temple in Serangoon Road, which is where traditional rituals begin throughout the month of January. Those who are participating in the sacrifice on an actual day must adhere to a few rigorous regulations, including vegetarianism, sexual abstinence, and a 24-hour fast on Thaipusam eve.
Hundreds of thousands of kavadi bearers congregate at Srinivasapuram Temple in the morning with their family, friends, and spectators. The kavadi-bearers are getting themselves ready for the procession as the gathering of people, drums pounding, and shouting is common events at the temple.
This year’s Thaipusam occurred on January 27th. I followed the kavadi bearers on their procession down Serangoon Road for the day.
Little India comes alive this time each year, as thousands gather on the streets to witness the sacred ritual that is Thaipusam. As a local, I find this festival especially fascinating when in close observance.