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Thaipusam , Thaipoosam , தைப்பூசம் , 大寶森節
Thaipusam Murugan.jpg
Murugan during Thaipusam.
Observed by Tamil Hindus
Type Religious
Significance The festival commemorates the occasion when Parvati gave Murugan a Vel
Date decided by the Tamil calendar
2014 date Friday, 17 January 2014
2015 date Tuesday, 3 February 2015
2016 date Sunday, 24 January 2016
2017 date Friday, 10 February 2017 **

Thaipusam, Thaipoosam (Tamilதைப்பூசம், Taippūcam ?) is a Hindu festival celebrated mostly by the Tamil community on the full moon in the Tamil month of Thai (January/February). It is mainly observed in countries where there is a significant presence of Tamil community such as India, Sri Lanka, Malaysia,[1] Mauritius[2] Singapore, South Africa, Guadalupe, Reunion, Indonesia, 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]


This festival 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 recognise that day the people created the festival, Thaipusam.

According to Skanda Puranam, the legend of Murugan, and Thirupugal which are divine verses on Murugan, adhere to Shaivam principles. Murugan is the embodiment of Shiva's light and wisdom and devotees pray to him to overcome the obstacles they face, as He is the divine vanquisher of evil. The motive of Thaipusam festival is to pray to God to receive his grace so that bad traits are destroyed.[5]

Kavadi Attam[edit]

The Kavadi Attam ("Burden Dance", also written as cavadee) is the ceremonial sacrifice and offering performed by devotees during the worship of Murugan, the Hindu God of War.[6] It is often performed during the festival of Thaipusam and emphasises debt bondage. The Kavadi itself is a physical burden through which the devotees implore for help from the God Murugan.[7] Devotees 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."[8]


Outside India, Thaipusam celebrations take place in Mauritius, Malaysia and Singapore.[9] It is a public holiday in several states 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] 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][13][14]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Malaysia : has all you want to know about Malaysia". Retrieved 6 January 2011. 
  2. ^ "Festivals, Cultural Events and Public Holidays in Mauritius". Mauritius Tourism Authority. Retrieved 28 January 2012. 
  3. ^ Thaipusam in Singapore.
  4. ^ "Vaikasi Visakam and Lord Murukan". Retrieved 6 January 2011. 
  5. ^ Significance of Thaipusam, OmTamil published 15 October 2012
  6. ^ Kent, Alexandra. Divinity and Diversity: A Hindu Revitalization Movement in Malaysia. University of Hawaii Press, 2005. (ISBN 8791114896)
  7. ^ Hume, Lynne. Portals.
  8. ^ Palani Thai Pusam, accessed 5 December 2006
  9. ^ Thaipusam celebrations in South East Asia.
  10. ^ 1.3 million mark Thaipusam – Star newspaper.
  11. ^ Loh, Larry (2 February 2010). "Thaipusam 2010: Faith, ritual and body piercings". Retrieved 6 January 2011. 
  12. ^ "Thaipusam | Sri Srinivasa Perumal Temple, Singapore, Singapore". Whatsonwhen. 24 November 2010. Retrieved 6 January 2011. 
  13. ^ Cheney S (8 February 2009). "8,000 Hindu devotees take part in Thaipusam festival". Channel News Asia. 
  14. ^ (1996) Pancorbo, Luis: "Los picados de Thaipusam" en "Fiestas del Mundo. Las máscaras de la Luna". pp. 85–93. Ediciones del Serbal. Barcelona. ISBN 84-7628-168-4