Sticking it out for Thaipusam

Singapore's Colourful Festival

  • 24-Jan-16

Singapore's Little India is a crowded colourful warren of shops, cafes and narrow alleys at normal times. When there is a festival on the heat becomes hotter, the colours more vibrant and the denser crowds more claustrophobic.  During Thaipusam, which is a thanksgiving festival that involves asceticism and control over one’s senses - which is done through piercing the back, the arms, the lips the cheeks with hooks and long metal skewers. While it may be a day for devotees to celebrate the fulfilment of their vows, it is not a place for the squeamish. 

Thaipusam is celebrated on the full moon in the Tamil month of Thai (January/February) and it takes its name from the month and the name of a star, Pusam, which is at its highest point during the festival. It is also near the end of the rainy season in Singapore so an umbrella is a good idea as it can be used to keep off the searing sun or a sudden downpour.

In Singapore this religious festival attracts thousands of Hindu devotees who fulfil their vows through a 4km walk along Serrangoon Road from Sri Srinivasa Perumal Temple to Sri Thendayuthapani Temple. It also attracts a great deal more people who come to witness this unique parade and of course to photograph it. It does get quite congested as barricades are placed along the streets to control the crowds. Patience is needed, of which I have little, to wend your way between shoppers, shopkeepers and on-lookers, those who've come to support the devotees and the police and traffic wardens. There are places where free water and lemonade are handed out, and a tent where free food is given. There is a long line up to get in.

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