Thaipusam

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Thaipusam
தைப்பூசம்
Thaipusam Murugan.jpg
Murugan during Thaipusam.
Also called தமிழர் திருவிழா
Observed by Tamil Hindus most notably Sri Lankan Tamils, Malaysian Indians, Indian Singaporeans, Indo-Caribbeans, Indo-Fijians, and Indo-Mauritians
Type Religious
Significance The festival commemorates the occasion when Parvati gave Murugan a Vel
Date decided by the Tamil calendar.
2016 date Sunday 24 January 2016
2017 date Thursday 09 February

Thaipusam or 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,[3] South Africa and other places where ethnic Hindu Tamils reside as a part of the local Indian diaspora population such as Réunion, Indonesia, Thailand, Myanmar, Trinidad and Tobago, Guyana, Suriname, Jamaica and the other parts of the Caribbean.

It is a national holiday in many countries like Malaysia, Sri Lanka, Mauritius and Fiji. In Singapore, it was a national holiday once but it was removed from Singapore holidays.

Note: In Fiji, Thaipusam is not officially declared as a national holiday, while in certain states of Malaysia and in the nations of Sri Lanka and Mauritius it is a government and a bank holiday.

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. It is commonly believed that Thaipusam marks Murugan's birthday; Some other sources suggest that Vaikhasi Vishakam, which falls in the Vaikhasi month (May/June), is Murugan's birthday.[4]

Origin[edit]

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] Please also check Nagarathar Kavadi which is very famous.

Traditions[edit]

Outside India, Thaipusam celebrations take place in USA, 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 & Arulmigu Balathandayuthapani Temple, Penang near George Town, Penang & Nattukkottai Chettiar Temple, Penang, 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] In the USA the Shiva Murugan Temple in Concord, California celebrates the Thaipoosam preceded by a walk. Some people walk more than 46 miles from the city of Fremont, some walk 21 miles from the city of San Ramon to Concord, and most walk 7 miles from Walden Park in Walnut Creek to Concord.[15] Over 2000 people participated in the walk for last several years.[citation needed]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Malaysia : AllMalaysia.info has all you want to know about Malaysia". Allmalaysia.info. 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 LALALALA". Murugan.org. 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". CNNGo.com. 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
  15. ^ "Thai Poosam » Shiva Murugan Temple". 

External links[edit]

  • Thaipusam date calculator As the date of Thaipusam is determined based on the position of the Sun and the Moon the date varies slightly depending on where you are. When using this link check the city that the web site is calculating for and adjust it if needed.