Today is the Hindu festival of Thaipusam. The idea behind this festival is to pray to God, to show your devotion to him, receive his grace, and have bad traits destroyed. In Singapore, this is done by meeting at the Sri Srinivasa Perumal Temple in the early morning, cleanse, pray, take upon burdens, and walk 5 kilometers to the Sri Layan Vinayagar temple. The burdens the devotees take upon themselves come in many forms: jugs of milk, piercings in their mouths, and large contraptions with many spears going into their bodies. Some walk on shoes of nails and there are lots of hooks with fruit, jugs of milk, and other heavy objects.
I arrived at the first temple at around 9:00 in the morning. I was able to easily find the temple and get inside to watch the preparations being made. There was one time when I had to look away but for the most part there isn't any blood, just a lot of pain.
For this post, I've put the photos in order of the journeys of a few of the Hindu family groups we saw. Follow the captions on the photos for the rest of the story. Oh, some of it is pretty tough to look at, so if you're squeamish then just look at the few at the beginning. I took quite a few videos and posted a few that I liked. Today I took a LOT of photos. I have tried to whittle it down without taking away from the experience. Enjoy!
Sri Srinivasa Perumal
|Groups of families came out of the temple when they were ready to begin their journey. |
The women wore beautiful Sari's and carried jugs of milk. A few women were pierced but not many.
Everyone goes barefoot the entire way.
|I followed the journey of this family.|
I think they must have done a cleansing before I arrived because the children were wet.
Then the Father broke open this coconut and the rest of them prayed and watched.
|They walked the 5 kilometers together.|
And when they ended up at the other temple, they walked in circles around this shrine saying their prayers to end the festival.
This is another group I followed. When we first arrived, this man was beginning to get his hooks placed into his back.
When he was done, I could tel he was in a lot of pain. He stood and waited while another man who walked by his side had the same done to him. You'll see him later with red ropes.
This is what the first man's back looked like.
Another group we saw had these three large kavadi.
This thing is HUGE and I'm sure it's heavy too. It had shoulder pads and a belt to hold it all up. The devotee carries all of the weight on their own.
Then they place the spears through the four sections
into the sides and back of the men who wear them.
At a red light, a family member gives him a drink. Notice the limes in his thighs.
This guy was in a group by himself (with many supporters following him). He was quite the showman. He was always posing with his staff and putting his hands on his hips. I noticed he'd find the cameras in the crowd and look their way.
The rest of these photos are a little bit "random"
part of the path walked
jugs of milk pierced into this man's back
As we approached the other temple, we were corralled into this madness. This is where the others had to wait for those in front of them to make way. I can imagine this part is really hard. It was hot, they are still burdened, and then they had to wait.
What one group did while they waited. (video above)
I didn't notice how young this child was when I first took his picture. As I saw him at the other end, I realized it. He was by far the youngest and smallest we saw carrying a kavadi.
This is the second temple at the end of the walk. You can see how crowded it was on this end.
Families gathered together and waited.
And that was the end of it.. for us. After the groups went into the temple, there was an un-staging area where they removed the kavadi.
I'm glad I was able to go see Thaipusam today. I noticed something as we were following these family groups. They don't make the journey alone. They travel in families and encourage the kavadi wearers. They sing, make music, and walk along side the entire journey.
I like that the cultures here in Sinapore are open to spectators. At times I've felt like an intruder but they seem to welcome onlookers.