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Thaipusam-Learn about the Tradition and Why it is Celebrated

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Thaipusam: 28th January 2021

This festival is mostly celebrated by the Hindu people of the Tamil community. The festival of Thaipusam is also known as Thaipoosam. The word Thaipusam is a combination of two word Thai and Pusam. The meaning of the word Thai is the month in which this festival is celebrated that is in the month of January and February. Pusam is the name of the star which is at its highest point in this month when this festival is celebrated.

The festival of Thaipusam is celebrated on the full moon day in the month of January or sometimes February. This festival is widely celebrated in many different parts of the world like Singapore, South Africa, Canada, Thailand, Myanmar, Suriname, Tobago and Trinidad, Guyana, Jamaica, Mauritius and also in many parts of the Caribbean where there is a significant presence of Tamil community. This festival is celebrated with great joy and complete devotion to God not only in India but also in different countries.

History of Thaipusam

The story behind the celebration of this festival is quite interesting. In many holy books of Hindu, there used to be a fight between the good and bad forces. The goddess on the good side is called ‘Devas’ and the forces which are in the support of the bad faith or evil forces are called ‘Asuras’. The Asuras had defeated devas many times and in doing so many devas were killed in the process. It was nearly impossible for Devas to stop all this. The slaughtering of Devas by Asuras were too high in number that all the Devas approached Lord Shiva and prayed him day and night to give them an able leader who can fight with Asuras and gain victory over them and to stop all this killing for the benefit of all. They completely surrender to Shiva. After seeing all this Lord Shiva blessed them by giving an able warrior who can defeat Asura’s. Lord Shiva created this warrior from his own power called Achintya Shakti and the name of this warrior is ‘Skanda’.  This warrior Skanda took the leadership of all the celestial forces and get them together and motivated them to fight with the evil forces Asuras and got the victory in this fight. And to celebrate the victory of good over evil the festival of Thaipusam is celebrated.

The motive behind celebrating this festival is to pray to God to receive his blessing and with the help of his blessing to destroy all the bad traits that had taken place. It is a frenetic festival celebrated by Hindu in the honor Lord Murugan which is a son of Lord Shiva and the Hindu god of war. The devotees pray to Murugan to overcome the obstacles they face as he is considered as the divine vanquisher of evil. It is also said that the festival of Thaipusam commemorates the occasion when the Murugan’s mother Lord Parvati gave him a Vel “spear” so that he could vanquish the demon Soorapadman. It is also said that the festival is celebrated because it marks Murugan’s birthday. Other sources suggest that the birth of Murugan’s comes on Vaikhasi month which falls in the month of May or June.

Kavadi Attam

The central part of this festival is called Kavadi Attam. The Kavadi is also known as cavadee and the meaning of this is a ‘Burned Dance’. The devote worship to the Lord Murugan and ask for help to overcome their difficulties in life. The devote used to carry a physical burden called Kavadi. Before the arrival of the festival Thaipusam, the devote used to keep fasting for 48 days and also follow a strict routine. They consume only a certain type of food called Satvik food and they take it only once in a day. They take this food by constantly thinking of God. It is observed that the devote follow celibacy. On the day of Thaipusam, they walk along a set route to pilgrimage and also shave their heads and carry various types of kavadis.

It is quite common to see people piercing their skin, cheeks, and tongue with vel skewers. It is also observed that some of them also have a small spear through their cheeks or sometimes a spear through their tongue. They believed that by doing so they are offering their sincere faith to the Lord Murugan.  The Kavadi is the burden’s that they carried on the shoulders to the temple and the simplest type of kavadi is decorated with a canopy supported by a wooden rod and it is semicircular in shape. In Pazhani the Nagarathar community also followed a similar practice which is called as the Nagarathar Kavadi.

Thaipusam in Different Countries

The festival of Thaipusam is widely celebrated in many different countries where there are a significant amount of Tamil-Hindu people. There is also a public holiday in many countries on the day of this festival. The celebration of this festival in Malaysia often attracts many people from around the world. In fact, the celebration of this festival in Malaysia is very famous. There are more than tens of thousands of tourist and millions of devoting visit temple at Batu Caves, near Kuala Lumpur and in George Town Penang and Nattukkottai Chettiar Temple and the temple of Arulmigu Balathandayuthapani on this day of the festival Thaipusam.

In California, United States of America the festival of Thaipoosam is started by a walk to the Shiva Murugan Temple in Concord. People used to walk several miles to reach this temple. It is noted that more than 2000 people take part in this walk. Some people walk from the city of San Ramon to Concord that is the distance of around 21 miles. Even some people start their journey from the city of Fremont, which is a distance of more than 46 miles. And most of the people take seven miles to walk from Walden Park in Walnut Creek.

In Indonesia, the festival is celebrated in the capital of North Sumatra province, Medan. People used to gather together at Sree Soepramaniem Nagarattar Temple at Kejaksaan Road. People used to accompany an old chariot which is called a Radhoo locally from the temple to the main temple which is a distance of around two to three kilometers. The main temple is open for 24 hours for this festival. People reach at Kampung Madras to Sri Mariamman temple carrying the 125 years old chariot. The celebration takes place both in the day and in the night but the major celebration took place in the night at the main temple.

Similarly, in Singapore, the celebration of this festival took place at the Sri Srinivasa Perumal Temple. This celebration took place in the early morning. People used to carry a pot of milk as offering to the Lord Murugan. They also carry kavadis and walk for about four kilometers to Sri Thendayuthapani Temple at the Tank Road.


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