Sunday, February 08, 2009

Thaipusam Festival 2009 - WS

Colour and sounds of the Thaipusam festival filled the streets of Little India this weekend. Thaipusam is observed on the full moon day of the Tamil month Thai (Jan - Feb) to make offerings to Lord Muruga.

It is a day of fasting, thanksgiving and consecration. The main participants carry beautifully decorated kavadis, with milk pots literally hooked to their bare bodies. It is a display of belief that transcends pain. The devotees go on a 4-kilometre trek with their loved ones and friends who would be chanting prayers and singing joyously beside them.

These foreign workers are here to give offerings. They were decorating their newly bought milk pots and having their own prayer session. Several have participated consecutively for 5 years.

Surprisingly, all of them participate in Thaipusam only when they come to Singapore. Where they come from, the Thaipusam celebration is held in temples too far away from their home-towns.

The temple grounds was getting very crowded from 11pm, but devotees kept coming.

There was FREE food and drinks for visitors. These volunteers were busy preparing sandwiches and drinks. They worked non-stop.

This is Subanes (in his 20s). It is his 5th year carrying the kavadi. This tradition runs in his family. His father carried the kavadi for more than 20 years and then passed it to his elder brother. Now it is Subanes' turn. His family and friends will accompany him on his walk. Subanes feels happy and thankful when carrying the kavadi.

Mr Adappan (51) and his friends were decorating his kavadi when I approached him. He has several Chinese friends helping him. Mr Wee Guan Soon (60) is Mr Adappan's colleague for more than 20 years. They are both working in the transport industry. Mr Wee has been helping and supporting Mr Adappan yearly since he started carrying the kavadi.

Mr Adappan has been fasting for the past 11 days. Devotees can choose to fast for 3, 11 or 21 days. Work on decorating his kavadi started a week ago. His friends helped to make the trimmings and decorative pieces.

This is Mr Adappan's 6th and last year of carrying the kavadi. He said he's getting old and if one carries a kavadi once, he has to carry it consecutively for 3 years. He was scheduled to start his walk at 2 am.

The procession will start from Sri Srinivasa Perumal Temple in Serangoon Road at 12.01am and end at Sri Thendayuthapani Temple in Tank Road. The two temples, together with the Hindu Endowments Board, organise the festival each year.

The route takes devotees through Serangoon Road, Selegie Road, Orchard Road, Penang Road, Clemenceau Avenue and Tank Road. Celebrations are expected to end at 12.01am on Monday.

A Thaipusam Heritage Corner has been set up for those who want to understand the festival. Cultural concerts by well known artists from South India, Malaysia and Singapore will be held on 7th and 8th February 2009 evening.

Thaipusam Heritage Corner
field opposite Serangoon Plaza


  1. colourful celebration

    p/s you look young and slim!

  2. yenjai,
    haha.... I lost 3 kg during this CNY due to lots of activities and no time to eat.

    When one is busy, it's a good way to slim down. No dieting this time. hehe...

  3. other people are complaining aboout gaining weight post CNY but ECL actually loses weight! LOL

    Were you up all night? Hope you have enough rest afterwards!

  4. Lina,
    Yes, I was rushing all over the places and eating little due to fatigue.

    All my pants are dropping and it is so funny for friends to see me pulling it up very often. haha...

    I just weighed two days ago. I lost 3 kg!

    I didn't stay long for the walk. I had a good rest.

  5. I've had trouble losing weight, maybe I should follow ECL around and lose some that way.:P

  6. Lina,
    haha.... you're welcome to follow me around. You must be prepared to keep moving and meet many people.

    There might not be time to sit down for a good meal. :)

  7. ECL..whew! you were really enjoying your weekend..hope i visit that place too..


  8. I love Asian celebrations. Lots of celebration to be joyful off. In Malaysia, Batu Caves is the place to go :)

  9. Happy Thaipusam! It's a bustling weekend in Penang where the Thaipusam festival is celebrated by hindus and chinese devotees.

  10. Gagay,
    I was soaking in the festive atmosphere.

    It was fun talking to the participants and sharing their culture and tradition .... and their food. haha....

  11. bluecrystaldude,
    I heard about Batu Caves, I'll plan for a trip next year. :)

  12. Life Ramblings,
    Happy Thaipusam!

    I heard about the Thaipusam celebrations in Malaysia and India. Wow! What a wonderful festival where different races and nationalities come together to celebrate!

  13. Interesting, and thanks for being there and taking all these pics for us. I can imagine it's not easy having to stay up until late midnight. :)

  14. JL,
    You're welcome.
    I tried my best to stay as long as I could. I had a long day and I could not wait until 2 am. :)

  15. Nice festival but sometimes I can't stand the crowd. Too many people makes me feel a little claustrophobic! Prefer to read about it on your blog or watch it on TV : )

  16. foongpc,
    The crowd was huge! Very huge turnout. Not only devotees but tourists and curious locals too. :)

    It was difficult to walk on the street leading towards or away from the temple.

    It would be a totally different experience if I were to watch it on TV at home.

  17. Very interesting ! You also have a little India ! Living in Singapore must be very colorful and international !

  18. Sandwiches? I thought they will prepare Indian snacks for visitors. :)

  19. Cool I was at the Sri Thendayuthapani Temple at Tank Road till 9 p.m. plus, and only reached the outskirts of Sri Srinivasa Perumal Temple around 11.25 p.m. By the time I was there, it was so crowded that I decided not to enter the temple. Looks like I have definitely missed meeting you for this.

    Ah...I salute the devotees. They walked barefooted from Sri Srinivasa Perumal Temple to Sri Thendayuthapani Temple. I tried doing so with shoes and my legs now ache.

  20. This is a great example of how good it is to have blog friends like you (thanks for sharing the story and the pics!): To read and learn about others habits and traditions. This is very exotic to a Norwegian you know :-)

  21. Hi ECL,

    My Dear and I were at the city just now when we saw the roadblocks and traffic marshallers already on standby for the procession.

    But we did not stop to watch the elaborated procession as we got something on, thus it is good to read your post about the procession!

  22. So interesting for me to read about such colourful celebrations and traditions. I love reading all about it.

  23. Gattina,
    Yes, we have a Little India.
    Singapore is a multi-racial society and a cosmopolitan city.

    It is interesting and fun to live here.

  24. Dora,
    I was expecting Indian snacks too. :(

    There were too many people, and you can see the volunteers are mostly Chinese, so sandwiches seem more practical and less costly. :)

  25. oceanskies,
    Arghhh.... we missed each other. I was still in the temple at 11.25 pm.

    The route is 4km! Chris drove, I cannot walk that far.

    I'm waiting to read your post. :)

  26. Renny,
    Some of the rituals and tradition are new to me too.

    This is the amazing and fascinating part about blogging. We learn new things and make great friends. :D

  27. singaporeshortstories,
    awww... you should have at least stopped to take some photos.

    I took so many photos and talked to so many people. Now I'm lost as to how to put up all the info and stories. :)

  28. A.,
    I'm enjoying the colourful celebrations as well. Thank you for stopping by.

  29. OMG I missed the Thaipusam Festival! I was wondering when it will be held and wanted to take some pictures. Aw... thanks for sharing ECL.

  30. Hi ECL! Another example of colorful, meaningful and merry festival around the globe.

  31. BTW, I met you at blog catalog before and you are part of my Global Friends Link. Dropped my card here too. Have a great day! :)
    A Mother’s Stuff
    Housewife @ Work

  32. Over here in Penang, many roads were jam with heavy traffic coz of the procession going on. I stay at home to avoid the crowd :(

  33. here, batu caves are transformed into a fairyland of lights..but I can't stand the crowd :-D

  34. Ah no happening here in my lil town. I'm sure Penang and KL have got some big ones.

  35. Hey ECL,

    We were just there yesterday. Accidentally saw it on our way home from walking at the Botanical Garden - I was really glad hubby caught a glimpse of the happenings. I've always wanted to see this since I saw it on the a Tourist map when we just came here 2 years ago.

    It was amazing! I made tons of pictures - but there were indeed LOTS of people so didn't stay super long.

    I finally posted my pics from the River Hong Bao - I will "try" to post about Thaipasum this week if I find the time.

    Have a great week!

  36. we have a picture outside that place :) and it's good to know what's going on in there. my WS is up too.

  37. looks like an interesting celebration. have a great week!

  38. Maybe it seem like there a lot of celebration where you are at.
    I've never tried fasting.

    Coffee is on.

  39. It would take a while for me to write about Thaipusam as I am trying to feel better health-wise.

    I have put up a very short introductory post of my experiences of the Thaipusam festival, and it has a link to this post of yours.

  40. Thanks for this post!! My in law came to visit from Switzerland and she wanted to see this but I couldn't take her as I had a birthday party to go she's looking at your photos. Thanks! :-) Angie

  41. Darkspore,
    Oops. I informed Wilfrid but I forgot to inform you. :P

    Next time I'll put whatever interesting events and activities on ABS website.

    I hope you still have a chance to take photos. It was a colourful festival.

  42. Hi Crissy,
    Of course I remember you.
    Thanks for visiting and the EC drop.
    See you again!

  43. sweet jasmine,
    Certain parts of our roads were also closed, due to the Thaipusam procession. But lots of people came to watch the procession!

    It is inconvenient to drive with the road closures. But I would not miss this chance to take photos of the festivities. I waited 2 years for this!

  44. Monica,
    Whoa! I want to experience that in Batu caves one day!

  45. kyh,
    Yes, I heard about the celebrations in KL and Penang! I wonder if there's any difference.

  46. Jade,
    So glad your hubby and you caught the Thaipusam procession. Interesting, huh? Can't wait to read about your experience and thoughts on this festival.

    Thanks for writing on the River Hongbao.

  47. marites 1034,
    It was very crowded inside the temple, many visitors could not enter in the early morning.

  48. peppylady,
    Here in Singapore, we have lots of celebrations every now and then because we are a multi-racial society.

    Some celebrations have become commercialised though, like V-Day.

  49. oceanskies,
    I hope you are well. Probably due to the running around during Thaipusam festival.

    Thanks for the link. :)

  50. Angie R,
    awwww..... thank you. I hope your in-law at least goes home with a festival to tell her friends, relatives and neighbours.

    I have more photos to upload and posts to write. Hope she would read them too.

  51. Ahhh! Ahhh! dead cockroach!!
    *jumps around*

    hahaha.... Hi! Glad to see you again. *wink*

  52. That must have been a very tiring event for you... at least it was a success. have a great week ahead!

  53. sassy mom,
    Yes, it was very tiring. I was up until the early hours. But it was worth it.

  54. The festival looks like so much fun. Great shots and an interesting post.

  55. Wow ... you are very in touch with the festivals in Singapore! I had no idea what Thaipusam is ... thanks for the coverage!

  56. very interesting post east coast! i love the free stuffs. hehehe

  57. What a fascinating festival. I'm VERY squeemish about even the smallest needles so I don't think I could bear to see it, but it's interesting to hear about from a safe distance.

  58. Thank you for sharing this interesting festival and traditions.