Thaipusam festival to proceed in January with COVID-19 restrictions; no kavadis, foot processionHindu devotees make their way along a 4km route during a Thaipusam festival procession in Singapore on Jan 31, 2018. (File photo: AFP/Roslan RAHMAN)
Thaipusam festival on Jan 28 will go ahead but COVID-19 restrictions mean some of its more distinct elements will be missing.
Among the key changes next year - there will be no foot procession between Sri Srinivasa Perumal Temple on Serangoon Road to Sri Thendayuthapani Temple on Tank Road. Devotees will also not be allowed to carry any form of kavadis.
COVID-19 restrictions are “expected to continue for some time to come since the world is experiencing new waves of infections”, festival organisers Sri Thendayuthapani Temple, Sri Srinivasa Perumal Temple and the Hindu Endowments Board said in a media release on Thursday (Dec 10).
Thaipusam festival to take place with strict measures; kavadis not allowed
The Thaipusam procession on Feb 8, 2020. Unlike previous years, there will be no foot procession in the Thaipusam festival next month. ST PHOTO: KELVIN CHNG
Hindu devotees who wish to participate in the Thaipusam festival next month will have to abide by a host of stringent measures, including pre-booking time slots to enter the temple, and using only pre-prepared offerings.
Unlike previous years, there will be no foot procession from Sri Srinivasa Perumal Temple in Serangoon Road to Sri Thendayuthapani Temple in Tank Road during the festival on Jan 28 and activities will only be conducted in and around the latter temple, announced the two temples and the Hindu Endowments Board (HEB) on Thursday (Nov 10).
They said in a joint statement that these restrictions are necessary in the light of the Covid-19 pandemic, and the decision to continue holding the festival was taken because of its historical significance.
Guide to Thaipusam 2021 in Singapore
The Thaipusam Festival will be different in 2021 with no procession nor kavadis this year due to safe distancing measures. Thursday, 28 January 2021 marks the start of Thaipusam in 2021 for Hindu devotees however if you normally get excited to observe Thaipusam, there are many changes this year.
What is Thaipusam? Thaipusam is a sacred Tamil thanksgiving festival involving asceticism and control over one’s senses. According to Tamil folklore, Thaipusam and the foot procession is celebrated in honour of Lord Murugan (also known as Lord Subrahmanya), who represents virtue, youth and power, and is the destroyer of evil.
During non-COVID years, Thaipusam in Singapore attracted thousands of Hindu devotees who fulfil their vows over a 3km walk from the Sri Srinivasa Perumal Temple (SSPT) at Serangoon Road to the Sri Thendayuthapani Temple (STT) at Tank Road carrying either a Paal Kudam (milk pot) or Kavadi (wooden or metal structure with milk offerings). In keeping with an old tradition that was revived in 2016, musicians used to line the procession route, a wonderful addition to the already festive atmosphere. This year however there will be no procession, kavadis nor music to stop crowds forming.
What is Thaipusam?
Early morning prayers. Piercings. Pots of milk. A long procession. To those who aren’t familiar with the Hindu ritual of Thaipusam, it may seem a strange mix. It is, however, one of the more beautiful and spiritual religious rituals celebrated in Singapore – a festival steeped in ancient tradition.
The two-day event is a thanksgiving festival celebrated by the Tamil people that involves asceticism and control over one’s senses. It’s held to honour Lord Murugan, the Hindu god of war who represents virtue, youth and power – a deity revered for defeating a particularly nasty demon. Devotees seek blessings, fulfil vows and give thanks.
The first day of Thaipusam, also known as the eve, sees a chariot procession starting from Tank Road at Sri Thendayuthapani Temple, a temple dedicated to Lord Murugan himself with 48 intricately etched glass panels angled to catch the light. The chariot takes Lord Murugan for a day’s visit to his brother Lord Vinayagar at Layan Sithi Vinayagar Temple on Keong Saik Road. Along the route, he stops at several places, including Sri Mariamman temple on South Bridge Road (Singapore’s oldest Hindu temple, dating back to 1827). Here, he greets the goddess within, a manifestation of his mother. He then continues on to see his brother.