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Thaipusam (Tamil: , Taippcam ?

) Thai Poosam is a Hindu festival celebrated mostly by the Tamil community on the full moon in the Tamil month of Thai (January/February). It is not only observed in countries where the Tamil community constitutes a majority, but also in countries where Tamil communities are smaller, such as Malaysia[1] , Mauritius[2] Singapore, Thailand and Myanmar[3] The word Thaipusam is a combination of the name of the month, Thai, and the name of a star, Pusam. This particular star is at its highest point during the festival. The festival commemorates the occasion when Parvati gave Murugan a Vel "spear" so he could vanquish the evil demon Soorapadman. There is a misconception among people that Thaipusam marks Murugan's birthday; however, it is believed that Vaikhasi Vishakam, which falls in the Vaikhasi month (May/June), is Murugan's birthday.[4]

Origin
Skanda (or Murugan) was created during one of the battles between the Asuras (or to be more specific Soorapadman) and the Devas. At one point, the latter were defeated several times by the former. The Devas were unable to resist the onslaught of the Asura forces. In despair, they approached Shiva and entreated to give them an able leader under whose heroic leadership they might obtain victory over the Asuras. They surrendered themselves completely and prayed to Shiva. Shiva granted their request by creating the mighty warrior, Skanda, out of his own power or Achintya Shakti. He at once assumed leadership of the celestial forces, inspired them and defeated the Asura forces and to recognize that day the people created the festival.

[edit] Kantha Puranam


According to Kantha Puranam, the legend of Murugan, and Thirupugal which are divine verses on Murugan, adhere to Saivam principles, Murugan is Sivans lights form and devotees pray to him as a wisdom of God. It is important to understand that Murugan is NOT the son of Sivan. Murugan is the wisdom form of Sivan. The motive of Thaipusam festival is to pray to God to receive his grace so that bad traits are deleted.[5]

[edit] Kavadi Or Cavadee

Thaipusam offers to God Kavadi , Cavadee Attam is a dance performed by the devotees during the ceremonial worship of Murugan, the Tamil God of War.[6] It is often performed during the festival of Thaipusam and emphasizes debt bondage. The Kavadi itself is a physical burden through which the devotees implore for help from the God Murugan.[7] Generally, Hindus take a vow to offer a kavadi to idol for the purpose of tiding over or averting a great calamity. For instance, if the devotee's son is laid up with a fatal disease, he would pray to Shanmuga to grant the boy a lease of life in return for which the devotee would take a vow to dedicate a kavadi to Him.

[edit] Preparations

Vel kavadi Devotees like Avinash Gooransingh prepare for the celebration by cleansing themselves through prayer and fasting approximately 48 days before Thaipusam. Kavadi-bearers have to perform elaborate ceremonies at the time of assuming the kavadi and at the time of offering it to Murugan. The kavadi-bearer observes celibacy and take only pure, Satvik food, once a day, while continuously thinking of God. On the day of the festival, devotees will shave their heads and undertake a pilgrimage along a set route while engaging in various acts of devotion, notably carrying various types of kavadi (burdens). At its simplest this may entail carrying a pot of milk, but mortification of the flesh by piercing the skin, tongue or cheeks with vel skewers is also common. The simplest kavadi is a semicircular decorated canopy supported by a wooden rod that is carried on the shoulders, to the temple. In addition, some have a small spear through their tongue, or a spear through the cheeks. The spear pierced through his tongue or cheeks reminds him constantly of Lord Murugan. It also prevents him from speaking and gives great power of endurance. Other types of kavadi involve hooks stuck into the back and either pulled by another walking behind or being hung from a decorated bullock cart or more recently a tractor, with the point of incisions of the hooks varying the level of pain.

[edit] Celebrations

Nel Parai Alappu In Palani, Tamil Nadu, India, Thousands of devotees flock to Palani and attend kavadi. According to palani.org, "The number of kavadis reaching Palani for Thai Pusam is about 10,000. For Pankuni Uttiram, 50,000 kavadis arrive. It is kavadi to your right, kavadi to your left, kavadi in front of you, kavadi behind you, kavadi above you and kavadi below you."[8] In Vadalur (Cudalore district), Saint Vallalar (18231874)(Ramalinga Adigalar) established Sathya Gnana Sabai(Lotus Temple). He kept 7 Screens and Camphor lighted Jothi every thaipusam day at 6am, 10am, 1 pm, 7 pm, 10 pm, and the next day 5:30 in this temple. Every monthly Pusam day 7 pm half screen Jothi Darshan performing. This was established in the year 1872, which is the Arutperumjothi Darshan. It can be seen monthly once and yearly six times only, on the state Government Declare local Holiday for the cudalore district. In Haripad Subramayawsami Temple, Alapuzha, Kerala is famous for Kavadiyattom.Almost 5000 kavadis coming to the temple from many temples in the locality. garga In Vaikom, Kerala, India, Thai Pusam festival is conducted with Kaavadis at Udayanapuram Subramanya temple. Devotees take panchamritha kaavadi, paal kaavadi, bhasma kaavadi, etc. In Karamana, Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala, India, Thai Pusam festival is conducted at Satyavageeswara temple. The utsava moorthy is taken in procession on a vahanam (mount). There is nel(Paddy)parai alappu or Nel alavu, as a ritual performed for good luck and prosperity. In Cheriyanad Subrahmanya Swami Temple, Chengannur, Alappuzha District, Kerala, India, Thai Pusam is celebrated with more than 500 Kavadis. The rituals are followed in strict manner.

In Nallur, Jaffna, Sri Lanka, Thai Pusam festival is conducted at Nallur Kandhasamy Temple. Many Tamil devotees irrespective of religion take part in celebrations. Even Tamils from Roman Catholic faith and Muslims take part in Thai Pusam celebrations and take Kavadis.

[edit] Outside Tamil Nadu

The largest Thaipusam celebrations take place in Mauritius, Malaysia and Singapore.[9] It is a public holiday in several states in Malaysia, including Kuala Lumpur, Selangor,Penang,Perak,Kedah,Malacca,Johor,Negeri Sembilan. ThaiPusam in Malaysia In Malaysia, the temple at Batu Caves, near Kuala Lumpur, often attracts over one million devotees and tens of thousands of tourists.[10] The procession to the caves starts at the Sri Mahamariamman Temple, Kuala Lumpur in the heart of the city and proceeds for 15 kilometers to the caves, an 8-hour journey culminating in a flight of 272 steps to the top. Thaipusam is also celebrated at Arulmigu Sri Balathandayuthapani Temple (Hilltop) along Jalan Waterfall in George Town, Penang. The chariot procession begins at 6am on Thaipusam eve callled "chetty pusam". Where the chariot together with Chettiar kavadis -- male chettiar carry a peacock feather yoke accompanying the silver chariot -- (different from body-piercing type of kavadis) departs Kovil Veedu(House Temple) on Penang Street, Georgetown in the early morning here to late night,an 10 hours journey culminaing in flight of 513 steps to reach Hilltop temple. New temple Sri Balathandayuthapani Temple consecration ceremony held on 26 june 2012. They retreat to the chettinar for three days before accompanying the chariot back to town, Penang. Penang Hindu Endowment Board (PHEB) reported that about more 500,000 devotess visit Arulmigu Sri Balathandayuthapani Temple(Hilltop)every year. They also celebrate at the Sri Subramaniar Temple in Gunong Cheroh, Ipoh.Sungai Petani, Kedah.

Penang Thaipusam Festival

ThaiPusam in Singapore In Singapore, Hindu devotees start their procession at the Sri Srinivasa Perumal Temple in the early morning, carrying milk pots as offerings or attaching "kavadis" and spikes pierced on their body.[11] The procession travels for 4 kilometres before finishing at Tank Road, Sri Thendayuthapani Temple.[12] On the previous day, the deity Lord Sri Thendayuthapani is taken on a procession in the Silver Chariot to Sri Layan Sithi Vinayagar temple and returns in the evening followed by Chettiar Kavadies and other devotees. This event is popularly called as Chetty Pusam in Singapore. On Thaipusam day, hundreds of devotees offer prayers either by piercing their body with spikes and lemon, pulling a chariot or carrying Kavadis from Sri Srinivasa Perumal Temple. The devotees then offer their prayers and fulfill their vows. The Vel (holy spear) in the sanctum is showered with milk continuously for hours. Several Chinese devotees and people of other religion and races also come to fulfill their vows on this day. Sri Thendayuthapani temple is celebrating this festival in Singapore for more than hundred years with pomp and splendour. Annathanam (Free Food) is provided from 12.30 pm to 4.00 pm on THAIPUSAM day, at the Chettiar Wedding Hall located within the temple premises. Although rare, scenes of people from different ethnic groups and faiths bearing "kavadi" can also be seen in Malaysia. Thaipusam is also increasingly being celebrated by the ethnic Chinese in Malaysia and Singapore.[13]
Thaipusam is a Hindu festival celebrated mostly by the Tamil community on the full moon in the Tamil month of Thai (Jan/Feb). It is also referred to as Thaipooyam or Thaippooyam in the Malayalam language. The word Thai-pusam is derived from the month name Thai and Pusam, which refers to a star that is at its highest point during the festival. The festival commemorates both the birthday of Murugan, the youngest son of god Shiva and his wife Parvati, and the occasion when Parvati gave Murugan a vel, so he could vanquish the evil demon Soorapadman.