Wow! well what can I say about this festival? I have been really looking forward to this since we first arrived and I heard about it. I arrived in Little India around 8 am thinking I would be there nice and early but as I was leaving home I heard from a fellow blogger that she had arrived at 5am!! I needn't have worried though as it continues well into the evening. The bus dropped me at the bottom of Serangoon Road and I walked up its length to the Sri Srinivasa Perumal Temple. Straight from alighting the bus there were devotees already on the procession which just took my breath away, even more spectacular than I was expecting. Water, food and sweets were handed out to the watchers which was much appreciated a couple of hours later as I walked back down the road. I walked the stretch stopping every couple of feet to witness the procession of devotees and their families. I entered the Sri Srinivasa Perumal Temple, removing my shoes and amongst the crowds I witnessed the piercings taking place (one man fainted after his tongue was pierced - I can understand why!)
An amazing sight I am so glad I have seen this.
Thaipusam is a Hindu festival celebrated by the Tamil community. It is held during the 10th Tamil month (Thai) during this time the star (Pusam) is at its highest. It is held in honor of Lord Murugan (Lord Subrahmanya) who represents youth, virtue and power and the destroyer of evil. Lord Murugan was given a spear by Parvati to kill the demon Soorapadman.
For the month leading up to Thaipusam the devotees live a life of celibacy, prayer and fasting, eating only a vegetable diet. This is to prepare themselves by clearing the mind and body, which in turn will mean they feel no pain - I certainly hope so!
At the start of the procession the devotees fulfill vows before they walk from Sri Srinivasa Perumal temple to Sri Thendayuthanpani temple on Tank rd, a distance of almost 5 km. Some of these devotees will wear "shoes" of nails throughout their walk. They will carry kavadis (physical burden) on the walk, some a simple pot of milk, others ornate burdens balanced on their shoulders decorated in peacock feather and flowers. Others are more extreme with their face and tongues pierced, wearing spiked kavadis with some weighing over 20kg. This is what the watchers have in all honesty come to see. These spikes pierce the devotees bodies. They will also hang many items from their bodies, some metal, gold, bells,others leaves and some even limes, I don't even pretend to know what the meaning of each of these are. Although its predominately men who have the piercings and certainly carry the spiked kavadis, many women and young lads also have their tongue and face pierced.
I hope you "enjoy" the photos, if thats the correct phrase and hope no one is squeamish!