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Thaipusam 2014 - Little India Singapore

Thaipusam in Singapore 2014

Jainita Dadlani | January 21, 2014

Indian Festivals  

Each year, on the full moon in the Tamil month of Thai (which falls somewhere in January or February), the streets of Little India come alive with a visual spectacle that draws huge crowds who come to witness Hindu devotees celebrate Thaipusam.

About Thaipusam

The festival is in honour of Lord Murugan, the Tamil God of war and victory and preparations begin 48 days before Thaipusam with devotees cleansing themselves through prayer and fasting. The highlight of the celebrations is ‘Kavadi Attam’, a ceremonial dance performed by devotees carrying ‘Kavadis’, elaborate structures that are balanced on devotees’ shoulders and hooked into their skins. Devotees make vows to take on the physical burden of the ‘Kavadi’ as a form of debt bondage in exchange for Lord Murugan’s blessings and help in overcoming obstacles.

This year, Thaipusam was marked on 16 January. Yellow barricades lined the street as traffic marshals directed both vehicles and human traffic to make way for the devotees’ procession.

Yellow Barricades Line The Streets - Little India Singapore - Thaipusam 2014

Yellow barricades line the streets 

Traffic Marshals Directed Humans and Vehicles - Little India Singapore - Thaipusam 2014

Traffic Marshals direct humans and vehicles

Devotees arrived early at the Sri Srinivasa Perumal Temple on Perumal Road, which is the starting point of a 4-kilometre pilgrimage to the Sri Thendayuthapani Temple on Tank Road.

Sri Srinivasa Perumal Temple - Starting Point for Thaipusam 2014 in Little India Singapore

Sri Srinivasa Perumal Temple – Starting Point for Thaipusam 2014 in Little India Singapore 

Preparations for Thaipusam

Offerings were made and preparations undertaken by devotees making the pilgrimage.

Offerings Preparation for Thaipusam 2014 - Little India Singapore

Offerings being prepared for Thaipusam

Offerings Prepared for Thaipusam 2014 - Little India Singapore

Prepared offerings

Offering of Bananas, Rice, incense Made by Devotees - Thaipusam 2014 - Little India Singapore

Offering of bananas, rice and incense made by devotees

Family members and well-wishers showed up in full force to show moral support and to help devotees assemble and put on the ‘Kavadi’. In recent years, many non-Hindus have also begun to participate in the ‘Kavadi Uttam’.

Family Members and well-wishers preparing Kavadis - Thaipusam 2014 - Little India Singapore

Family members and well-wishers preparing Kavadis

Devotees setting up their Kavadis - Thaipusam 2014 - Little India Singapore

Devotees setting up their Kavadis

Devotee Skin Being Pierced To Hold Kavadi - Thaipusam 2014 - Little India Singapore

Devotees’ skin is pierced to hold Kavadi

Devotee Skin On Chest Is Pierced - Thaipusam 2014 - Little India Singapore

Devotees’ skin is pierced to hold Kavadi

Devotees Feel Little Or No Pain As Their Faces Are Pierced - Thaipusam 2014 - Little India Singapore

Devotee showing little or no pain as his face is pierced

Devotee Ready To Make The 4 Kilometre Walk - Thaipusam 2014 - Little India Singapore

(Left) Devotee almost ready with the Kavadi on his back; (Right) Devotee makes the 4 kilometre pilgramage with feet tied to a bed of nails

During the Walk – Thaipusam 2014

Hundreds of devotees worship Lord Murugan by taking on burdens in exchange for blessings and help in overcoming challenges in their lives. Women and children traditionally carry pots of milk on their heads while men carry elaborate ‘Kavadis’ of various shapes and sizes. Mortification of the flesh is also common with many devotees piercing their skin, tongue or cheeks. Family and friends turn up in full force to accompany the devotees on their pilgrimage. Some chant devotional songs and play percussion instruments, while others provide moral support as the devotees display tremendous endurance in overcoming their physical pains.

Different Back Piercings by Devotees - Thaipusam 2014 - Little India Singapore

Different back piercings by devotees

Devotees Prepare Pots To Be Carried - Thaipusam 2014 - Little India Singapore

 Devotees prepare pots of milk to be carried

Devotees Included Both Men and Women - Thaipusam 2014

Women traditionally carry pots of milk on their head as offerings

Devotees Walk From One Temple To the Other - Thaipusam 2014 - Little India Singapore

Devotees make the 4km pilgrimage from one temple to the other

Route Marshall Directing Traffic - Thaipusam 2014 - Little India Singapore

Route Marshall directing traffic

Devotees Carrying Kavadis Given Right of Way - Thaipusam 2014 - Little India Singapore

Devotees carrying Kavadis given right of way

Colorful Kavadi and devotees in the colour saffron, which is associated with sacrifice, religious abstinence, quest for light and salvation.

Colorful Kavadi - Thaipusam 2014

Group of Devotees Carry An Idol - Thaipusam 2014 - Little India Singapore

 All hands on deck as a group of devotees in green carry an idol

Walking Barefoot and Pierced - Thaipusam 2014 - Little India Singapore

 Devotees make the pilgrimage barefoot with Kavadis weighing over 20kgs

Different Kavadi Designs Prepared by Devotees - Thaipusam 2014 - Little India Singapore Devotees go all out on designing their Kavadis, making each one unique. (Left) Kavadi decorated with the “Om” symbol and an image of Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati, parents of Lord Murugan. (Right) Kavadi decorated with feathers of a peacock – the vehicle of Lord Murugan.

Intricate Crosswork of Piercings to Hold Kavadi In Place - Thaipusam 2014

Intricate crosswork of piercings to hold the Kavadi in place

Tongue Pierced to Keep Mouth Open Throughout The Walk - Thaipusam 2014

Tongue and cheek piercings to impede speech and allow full concentration on Lord Murugan

Supporters of Devotees Walked, Danced, Sang and Played Drums Throughout - Thaipusam 2014 - Little India Singapore Supporters of devotees walk, sing, dance and play the drums; many devotees enter a state of trance during this time.

Children showing their devotion - Thaipusam 2014 - Little India Singapore

Children are encouraged to participate in the pilgrimage from a young age

Devotee Being Pulled Back By Piercing As Walks - Thaipusam 2014 - Little India Singapore

 A devotee pulls a chariot with his bare back

Devotee with an Intricate Mouth Piercing and Hooked At the Back - Thaipusam 2014

A devotee with intricate mouth piercings pulls a chariot with his bare back

Filled Pots Being Carried by Hooks - Thaipusam 2014 - Little India Singapore

Burdens hooked into a devotees’ skin

Jainita Dadlani
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Jainita Dadlani

Jainita Dadlani believes that a picture paints a thousand words and considers herself a poet of the eye. She enjoys telling stories with her photographs and invites everyone to see the world through her eyes. When her nose isn't buried behind her trusty Canon viewfinder, you will find her donned in her invisible cape, finding ways to make the world a better place. Follow her adventures at www.facebook.com/jainitaphotography Other articles by this author

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