Over 20,000 Hindus in Singapore on Sunday celebrated the colourful Thai Poosam festival, thronging the streets for an annual religious procession to fulfil vows and offer prayers to the deity Murugan, with live music being allowed throughout the route for the first time in 40 years.
The Tamil Hindus in Singapore, who have maintained the tradition of observing Thai Poosam, were joined by a number of Chinese on a four-kilometre journey from Sri Srinivasa Perumal Temple in Little India precinct to Sri Thendayuthapani Temple on Tank Road on the outskirts of central business district.
‘Kavadis,’ milk pots
The devotees, with leads bearing elaborately decorated home-made frames called “kavadis” and milk pots, formed part of the procession batches in the day-long event to mark the festival when Goddess Parvati gave her son Murugan — the Hindu God of War — a Vel “spear” to vanquish evil demon Soorapadman.
Kavadi, meaning “sacrifice at every step,” can weigh as much as 100 kilogramme and are typically affixed to a person’s body using sharp metal spikes.
The Kavadi Attam (Burden Dance), is a ceremonial sacrifice and offering performed by devotees to worship Murugan.
Chinese too join
Singapore’s Home Affairs and Law Minister K. Shanmugam, who attended the event, observed that a number of non-Indians participating in the procession.
“You look at the number of Chinese who are involved — it is quite amazing,” Mr. Shanmugam told reporters.
Live religious music
A live religious music by temple musicians at dedicated places and loudspeakers in other public places created an atmosphere of carnival as devotees along with tourists and foreign workers watched the colourful procession.
Live music at Thai Poosam processions had been banned due to concerns over unruly behaviour in the past, but regulations were relaxed this year with three live music points and seven music-transmission points being allowed along the route for the first time in 40 years.
Biggest religious procession event
The Hindu Endowment Board, which manages the temples, has spent SGD2,50,000 and nine months to organise Singapore’s biggest religious procession event.
Meanwhile, more than a million Hindus in Malaysia celebrated the colourful Thai Poosam festival on Sunday, thronging temples to offer prayers to Lord Murugan as Prime Minister Najib Razak greeted the devotees saying the festival showcases the “true spirit” of the mult-ethnic country. “Although religious in nature, the Thai Poosam celebration in Malaysia showcases to the world our diversity with Malaysians respecting and accepting each other’s culture, religion and beliefs,” Mr. Najib wrote on his official website.
“We must continue to uphold these noble principles to further strengthen our solidarity and national unity in the true spirit of Malaysia,” he said.