Sunday, July 26, 2009
Thaipusam In Penang
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 (also Subramaniam), the youngest son of god Shiva and his wife Parvati, and the occasion when Parvati gave Murugan a vel (spear) so he could vanquish the evil demon Soorapadman.
Kavadi Attam is a dance performed by the devotees during the ceremonial worship of Murugan, the Tamil God of War. 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.
Generally, Hindus take a vow to offer a kavadi to idol for 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.
Every year, thousands of visitors and devotees throng the island to witness this spectacle of epic proportions. In a show of faith and devotion, Hindus (including quite a few foreigners) in a trance carry magnificent kavadis that are pierced into their bodies or pots of milk as offerings to Lord Murugan.
The three-day event includes a silver chariot procession where the statue of Lord Murugan makes its way from a temple in the George Town heritage enclave to a hilltop temple in Waterfall Road. As the chariot passes the streets, devotees smash coconuts as offerings and to give thanks to the deity.
For visitors, the early morning of Thaipusam is arguably the finest time to experience
the purist side of the festival. The calm and tranquil march of devotees bearing
ceremonial milk-pots, coconuts and simple shoulder-kavadis in the balmy hours is an
interesting sight to remember.
Along Waterfall Road, stalls selling everything from souvenirs and prayer paraphernalia to Indian sweet meats, drinks and snacks line the street. This Hindu festival comes alive in a carnival-like atmosphere with chanting and music – an experience like no other!
Venue: Chariot Procession will be from Penang Street though the streets of George Town proceeding to the waterfall Murugan Temple on 8th of February 2009.
Organizer: Penang Hindu Endowments Board