Sunday, January 19, 2014


IN PROCESSION TO MARK THAIPUSAM - Devotees thronged the Sri Srinivasa Perumal Temple in Little India on Thursday to celebrate the Hindu festival Thaipusam, one of the most spiritual and important events in the Hindu calendar, which took place on Friday.  Thousands of devotees gathered at the Sri Srinivasa Perumal Temple at Serangoon Road to begin their procession to the Thendayuthapani Temple at Tank Road. One of Singapore's oldest temples, this Perumal Temple is the starting point of the annual Thaipusam procession. 
Thaipusam is an auspicious day for the many devotees who take up specific vows and fulfil them. They include not just Indians but also people of other races who carry kavadis and milk pots. Devotees carry various types of "kavadi" to seek blessings from the Hindu warrior god Murugan.

During a temple visit, Second Home Affairs Minister S Iswaran said: "I just met a Chinese gentleman who is here to support his colleague who will be carrying a kavadi, and he has been doing this every year: "So I think this epitomises the way we do things in Singapore. We come together as a community across different ethnic and religious groups in order to celebrate a specific custom or cultural aspect. And I think we should continue to be committed to that and celebrate that." 
As large crowds were expected at Little India, the Public Order Act proclamation has been in effect in the area. As in past years, hundreds of volunteers, including road marshals and security personnel, also helped out in the procession, ended at 11pm on Friday. The alcohol ban in Little India takes effect from 6pm on Thursday to 6am on Monday.

Thaipusam is celebrated in the month of January and commemorates the immortal dance of Lord Shiva. Thaipusam is a full-moon festival in honour of Lord Murugan (aka Lord Subramaniam), son of Shiva and Parvati, who represents the triumph of good over evil.  This festival recalls the day that Parvati gave Murugan the vel, a magical weapon that destroys all wickedness, sins and banishes negativity from the soul. Today, Shaivite pilgrims from all over India and abroad congregate to venerate Lord Murugan. Each pilgrim takes an offering, called a kavadi, meaning "sacrifice at each step", to remind them of their previous sin and their personal vow to Lord Murugan. In an extreme act of personal penance and homage to Murugan, a devotee may volunteer to be hooked up to a huge wooden or metal structure. Before that, the volunteer has to undergo a whole month of inner cleansing, with a strict vegetarian diet, celibacy and spiritual nourishment to give him strength. On the day of Thapusam, with the help of the frantic drumming and the chanting by the crowds, the devotee enters a deep trance to make the pain disappear, and then spears and hooks are pushed through his flesh. The Vaishnava devotees also perform penance or tapasyas to increase devotion to Krishna. For example, during the month of Kartik, devotees give up different types of food, eat just once a day, stay continuously singing, and try with all their might be more and more close to the level of consciousness that have been exhibited by pure devotees. Other forms of devotional tapasya are the parikramas made in the saints dhams in India, where you accept many drawbacks to purify the conscience. Other kind of austerity is sankirtana tapasya, or the distribution of Krishna consciousness in all times and places. Our teachers have taught us that “Without tapasya, no success is possible in spiritual life.”. (Editor's note).

Thaipusam is a festival to celebrate two important events in Hindu mythology. The first is the anniversary when Lord Murugan received the Vel (spear) from His Mother, Goddess Parvathi. The second event is the day that God Shiva danced the ananda tandava and revealed His form of Nataraja to the devas, sages and priests gathered at the hallowed Shiva temple of Chidambaram in Tamil Nadu. Thus Thaipusam is celebrated in both Shiva and Murugan temples, though Thaipusam is more popular as a Murugan festival. Thaipusam is a one day festival which usually falls on the last week of January or beginning of February. The Vel (spear) that Lord Murugan received from his Mother is a symbol of purification. According to the myth, the Vel was given to Lord Murugan to vanquish three asuras that were terrorizing Earth and the Heavens at the time. The asuras were Surapadman, Singamugan and Tarakasura. The three of them represent the forces of fear, hatred, greed and arrogance. The Vel, a symbol of light and wisdom was used by Lord Murugan to rid the world of the three asuras and bring peace and balance back to the Heavens and Earth. Thus the Vel is the protecting and purifying force of Lord Murugan and Thaipusam is a celebration of these forces.

Published by dasavatara das - "Vedic Views on World News"

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