Thaipusam Festival in Singapore 2017

Thaipusam is a festival celebrated mostly by the Hindu Tamil community on the full moon in the Tamil month of Thai (January or February). It is observed mainly in countries where there is a significant presence of Tamil community such as Singapore, Malaysia and of course, India. Because of some supernatural rituals involving body piercing and some devotees going into trance, the meaning of Thaipusam is sometimes misunderstood. But Thaipusam is really a thanksgiving festival where the devotees celebrate the fulfilment of their vows.

Thaipusam 2017

Devotees praying at Sri Srinivasa Perumal Temple. Fuji X-T2 and XF 14mm f/2.8 R.

In Singapore, Thaipusam starts the day before with a chariot procession in which Lord Murugan leaves the Sri Thendayuthapani Temple in Tank Road for a visit to His brother Lord Sri Vinayagar at Layan Sithi Vinayagar Temple in Keong Saik Road. The chariot will return in the evening. The second day starts in the wee hour when most of us are about to sleep. Devotees and their family will come to Sri Srinivasa Temple in Serangoon Road to start the prayers, preparing the milk pots, and other rituals including the piercing of their bodies. They will then leave the temple to start the 4+km procession on foot to Sri Thendayuthapani Temple.

Thaipusam 2017 - by Hendra Lauw

Milk pots on devotees’ head, ready to be transported to Sri Thendayuthapani Temple as offerings for Lord Murugan.

 

Thaipusam 2017 - by Hendra Lauw

Carrying milk pot. Fuji X-T2 and XF 14mm f/2.8.

 

Thaipusam 2017

A devotee with his tongue pierced, leaving Sri Srinivasa Temple carrying a milk pot for Lord Murugan.

It’s amazing to watch these rituals happening right in front of you. The amount of concentration, trust, perseverance and faith that these devotees show are just out of this world. The festival has always attracted a big number of photographers and tourists starting from midnight till sundown. But, these devotees do not seem to be distracted during the rituals. Amazing concentration and prayers.

Thaipusam by Hendra Lauw

A devotee carrying spike kavadi which is a semi-circular steel frame supported by bars on the shoulders and steel rods pierced into the skin in the abdomen area. Spikes attached to the metal frame pierce the body of the devotee.

 

Thaipusam in Singapore - by Hendra Lauw

A devotee carrying spike kavadi being pierced on his cheeks.

 

Thaipusam - by Hendra Lauw

A devotee with hooks attached to his back. Each hook is tied to a rope that is tied to a chariot kavadi which is a portable altar on a wooden chariot. The devotee will pull this chariot along.

 

Thaipusam Festival

A devotee pulling a chariot kavadi.

 

Thaipusam Festival

A devotee with steel rod pierced into his cheeks was given drink before starting the 4km procession.

For more images and videos, watch these below. All videos and images shot on Fuji X-T1, X-T2, XF14mm, XF23mm and XF90mm. The video clips are straight out of the camera. Still images were processed in Adobe Lightroom.

For more information on Thaipusam, read more about it here and here.

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