Thaipusam is one of several religious festivals which makes a grey Singapore a little more colourful. It is one of those things that is still very much practiced in the same fashion as it had been when the first Tamil immigrants brought the tradition over from Tamil Nadu. I have been fascinated with the festival since my days as a schoolboy, particularly the sight of tongues, cheeks and various parts of the body pierced with vels, skewers or imaginary spears. Going to school along Bras Basah Road, I wasn’t far away from the “action”. This took place one a year during the Tamil month of Thai, on the day of the full moon. The procession of devotees carrying Kavadis of various forms and milk pots, accompanied by friends and family members and the sound of drums, musical instruments (only drums are permitted today) and the chants of “Vel, Vel, Vadivel“, through a four kilometre route from the Sri Srinivasa Perumal Temple in Serangoon Road to the Sri Thandayuthapani Temple in Tank Road would pass close by at Dhoby Ghaut. As schoolboys, several of us would follow a part of the procession from Selegie Road to Penang Road and sometimes on to Tank Road, where some of the more daring ones would go inside the Sri Thandayuthapani Temple, where a vegetarian meals served on banana leaves would await them.
I have somehow never photographed the event and did so today. The tradition of Thaipusam provides interesting reading, but there would be enough of it already explained elsewhere so I guess it is best to let the photographs do the talking …
The Vel Kavadi is synonymous with Thaipusam in Singapore
The Vel Kavadi is adorned with peacock feathers and attached to the devotee through 108 vels or skewers pierced into the skin on the chest and back.
Peacock feathers on a Kavadi.
Devotees carrying a milk pot and a simple Kavadi.
Milk Pots are carried by both men and women, young and old.
The procession on Selegie Road.
Kavadis along Selegie Road.
Devotees with milk pots along Selegie Road.
Devotee carrying a simple Kavadi.
Concentration and silence is maintained by the Kavadi bearers.
Devotees carrying milk pots.
Old and young carrying milk pots.
Hooks on the back of a devotee pulling a chariot.
More scenes and faces captured during the procession along Upper Serangoon and Selegie Roads today.