Thaipusam Festival is a Hindu celebration and commended for the most part by the Tamil community. This celebration in additionally celebrated where Tamil people group is a minority, for example, Singapore and Malaysia. In Malayalam dialect Thaipusam Festival is known as Thaipooyam or Thaippooyam. Thaipusam is observed by all age groups and men and women alike.
The word ‘Thaipusam’ is obtained by combining the two words, ‘Thai’ meaning the Tamil month and ‘Pusam’, which is the name of a star. Hence on the occasion of Thaipusam this star is at highest point during the month of Thai. Thaipusam is a thanksgiving festival that involves asceticism and control over one’s senses. This specific star is at its most noteworthy point amid the celebration.
The celebration remembers the event when Parvati gave Murugan a Vel “skewer” so he could vanquish the detestable evil spirit Soorapadman. It is a day for devotees to celebrate the fulfilment of their vows. Thaipusam is the second largest Hindu festival in Malaysia and is celebrated in honour of Lord Subramaniam, also known as Lord Murugan, who is the Hindu God of war.
On the occasion of Thaipusam one can witness several rituals and parades taking place in different parts of the country. Large number of tourist’s flocks during this time to see the activities, noise and colors of Thaipusam. Thaipusam is celebrated with great pomp and show in all the six temples dedicated to Lord Murugan, located in southern states of India.
When it is celebrated
Thaipusam festival is observed on the Purnima during the auspicious month of Thai as per the Tamil calendar. It corresponds to the month of January or February in the Gregorian calendar.
Where it is celebrated
Thaipusam festival is mainly observed in countries where there is a significant presence of Tamil community such as India, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Mauritius Singapore, South Africa, Canada and other places where ethnic Hindu Tamils reside as a part of the local Indian diaspora population such as Réunion, Indonesia, Thailand, Myanmar, Trinidad and Tobago, Guyana, Suriname, Jamaica and the other parts of the Caribbean.
Lord Subramanian is known to be the universal granter of desires. It is a belief that for fulfilment of one’s desires, it is necessary to pay for the past sins.
Devotees prepare for the celebration by cleansing themselves through prayer, celibacy and fasting for 48 days before the festival. They eat only pure, satvik food once during the day. The Kavadi-bearers live a life of strict discipline denouncing all the worldly activities. As a part of the ceremony, devotees dress up in yellow and orange clothing.
To mark this day of penance and thanksgiving, Hindus pierce their body with metal skewers and carry pots of milk on their heads along a four-kilometre procession. Also, devotees shave their heads off and proceed towards the temple of their deity. All through the way they engage in different forms of devotion like carrying varied types of kavadi or burdens. Sometimes the contraptions are so large and heavy that several men have to offer assistance.
While carrying a pot of milk is the simplest form of kavadi, the extremes of which includes piercing the tongue, cheeks or skin with vel skewers. The act of piercing constantly reminds the devotees about Lord Murugan and gives the bearer immense power of endurance.
Before being pierced, devotees are worked into a trance-like state with chanting and drums. Once entranced, the crowd helps to take care of them and leads them through the procession. Tongues are often pierced and pinned through the cheeks as a symbolic gesture of the volunteer giving up the gift of speech.
When they reach pilgrimage, they lay down their Kavadi. Then, honey or milk is poured on the idol of the deity. Devotees offer yellow fruits and flowers to Lord Murugan. Once reaching, devotees who use skewers and hooks on their body parts immediately remove it and their wounds are treated with hot ash.Surprisingly there is no sign of pain, blood or even any scarring at all. This reinforces the belief of the devotees.
It is a public holiday in the following regions of Malaysia: Kuala Lumpur, Putrajaya, Johor, Negeri Sembilan, Perak, Penang, Selangor. It is also generally a public holiday in Mauritius and is known as Thaipoosam Cavadee.
You can also get details of the other festivals….Click on the link below