Thaipusam In Singapore

Trip Start Jan 30, 2010
Trip End Jan 31, 2010

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Sunday, January 31, 2010

Thaipusam is the annual Hindu festival celebrated by Saivaites worldwide specifically for Lord Murugan, the son of Lord Shiva. Many regards Thaipusam as the birthday of Lord Murugan which is not true. Thaipusam has a story behind it. The birthday for Lord Murugan is Vaigasi Visagam which is celebrated sometime in the month of May / June every year. Once upon a time, Sage Agasthiyar told his disciple Yedumban to carry two hills and move them to another location. The hills were Siva Hill and Sakthi Hill. Yedumban then went to the locations and ties both hills on a rod, one on each side and carried them. When he stopped to rest for a while, Lord Murugan came and stood on top the Siva Hill. This episode happened after Lord Murugan's quarrels with his parents over a mango. When Yedumban decided to resume his journey, he could not lift the hills. He then saw Lord Murugan on one of the hills and an argument broke out. Then upon defeat, Yedumban surrendered himself as the humble servant and disciple of Lord Murugan. This hill today is known as Palani Hills in Tamil Nadu and the on the perch of the other hill, Sakthi Hill, Yedumban temple is constructed. That is why, the traditional Kavadis are shaped like a big rod with milk pots on both ends and carried in similar fashion as to how Yedumban carried the two hills. This date that the incident happened is on the hindu month of Thai and on the star of Pusam. Therefore, every year, in the month of Thai on the day when the star Pusam is up, Thaipusam is celebrated.
Devotees would fast for a minimum of 3 days and this could go up to 30 days. During this period, the devotees would be vegetarians and leading a celibate life. Kavadi bearers could be of two types, firstly they may have made some wishes and their wishes were granted. As a return of their promise they may take a kavadi. Secondly, they may have certain wishes which is not granted yet and hence they are taking kavadis as a sacrifice so that their wish comes true. This is usually not in material gains. It is either for health reasons or child birth. As a Malaysian, Thaipusam is celebrated grandly in Malaysia in various locations, namely Batu Caves Temple in Kuala Lumpur, Kallu Malai Temple in Ipoh, Perak, Thanneermalai Temple in Penang Island, Thandayuthapani Temple in Sungai Petani, Kedah , Water Works Murugan Temple in Johor Bahru and numerous other temples across the country.
 This year, instead of visiting the temples in Malaysia, decided to follow the procession from Singapore as the main attraction in SIngapore is the Thandayuthapani Temple in Tank Road. The procession begins at Srinivasa Perumal Temple and proceeds to Tank Road Temple. 
Instead of taking the usual Air Asia, I decided to try Tiger Airways as the cost is much lower. It cost me RM 160 including taxes for a round trip. Of course, you have to take the flight from the Low Cost Carrier Terminal in Sepang and it lands in the Budget Terminal in Singapore. From there, there is a free shuttle bus to Terminal 2 where you could take the MRT to the city. I took the MRT from Changi and got down in Little India which is just near Serangoon Road. From there, I walked about 1 kilometer to Srinivasa Temple to watch the kavadis preparation and the start of the procession. If you want to go directly to Srinivasa Perumal Temple, get off at Farrer Park station. It is much closer than Little India Station. This is on the Purple Line. After watching the kavadis, I had my lunch in the temple itself as free food was provided. 
Then wanted to go to the Tank Road Temple which is the Murugan Temple where the kavadi procession ends. I asked around, and they told me its 3 kilometres from where I was. Having already walked so much and my legs were hurting, I decided to take the MRT from Farrer Park Station and got off at Dhoby Ghout Station. From there, its a 500 metres walk to the temple. Prayed in the temple and watched the procession there until about 6 pm. Then as it was about to rain, I decided to walk back to the station and went back to Farrer Park station. From there, I walked to Mustafa Centre along Serangoon Road and watched the kavadi procession until around 8 pm. Then took the MRT back to Changi Terminal and back home the next morning at 2.00 am. A very tiring trip but enjoyed myself. I also heard that there is a similar procession for Panguni Uthiram which happens at the Yishun Murugan Temple. This happens around the month of March / April every year. I could, I would like to visit that procession as well.

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