Thaipusam in Singapore: 3 Fascinating things about this colourful festival!

How much do we really know about Thaipusam in Singapore, apart from the huge procession and traffic block? Here are 3 fascinating things to know!

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Today, Jan 31, is Thaipusam in Singapore for year 2018.

How much do we know about this colourful Hindu festival, apart from the fact that it literally brings traffic to a standstill? :) 

Here are 3 things to know about Thaipusam in Singapore!

Thaipusam in Singapore - What it is

Hindus (mostly Tamils) celebrate Thaipusam in honour of Lord Murugan (also known as Lord Subramanian), the God of virtue, youth and power, and destroyer of evil. 

In a large, colourful annual procession, Hindu devotees in Singapore seek blessings and fulfilling of vows and offer their thanks.

The chief attractions of this festival are the colourful 'kavadis' and live traditional music. The word 'Kavadi' means ‘sacrifice at every step’ in Tamil.

A 'kavadi' is a semi-circular steel or wooden frame, meant to be carried by a devotee for the length of the procession. It has bars for support on the shoulders and is decorated with flowers and peacock feathers. Some have spikes that pierce into the body.

It can be as heavy as 40 kg and reach a height of 4 m!

This festival is all about the triumph of mind over matter!

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Thaipusam in Singapore - How it is celebrated

Devotees usually spend an entire month in preparation for Thaipusam. They follow a strict vegetarian diet. Devotees also observe celibacy and keep their body free from physical pleasures.

It is believed that purity of mind and body are essential to perform the sacred task without feeling any pain.

The Thaipusam ceremony starts early in the morning. The first batch of devotees carry milk pots and wooden 'kavadis'.

Some pierce their tongues with skewers and carry a wooden kavadi decorated with flowers and peacock feathers balanced on their shoulders.

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Other devotees carry spiked kavadis that require elaborate preparation.

Not all who join the Thaipusam procession need to perform such extreme measures. Women and children under 16 often simply carry a pot of milk, which symbolises abundance and fertility.

The entire route of the procession measures 4.5 km, and devotees will walk all the way, together with relatives and friends, who chant hymns and prayers to support and encourage them.

Where to go to witness Thaipusam in Singapore

In Singapore, the celebrations generally last for 2 days. You can witness the festivities anywhere between Sri Srinivasa Perumal Temple at Serangoon Road and Sri Thendayuthapani Temple at Tank Road.

This year's festivities will be a little different due to the lunar eclipse and Super blue blood moon. Hindus consider eclipse as inauspicious, so this year's Thaipusam will end 5.5 hours earlier.

The Hindu Endowments Board has clarified on the website, “During an eclipse, light and energy from the sun or moon are blocked and cannot reach the earth. Eclipses are therefore considered inauspicious and Hindu temples are closed.”

"No religious services can be carried out and no milk offerings made during an eclipse."

Which is why, this year's procession began early - the procession began at 9.30 pm yesterday (Jan 30) and will end at 6.30 pm today (Jan 31). 

This year’s procession started at the Sri Srinivasa Perumal Temple (SSPT) near River Valley Road and will end at the Sri Thendayuthapani Temple (STT) near Race Course Road.

Also READ: Pongal in Singapore - What you need to know!