Thaipusam- ‘’Thai’’ is the name of the month; ‘’Pusam’’ means when the moon is the brightest. Thaipusam is all about faith, endurance, and penance. It is the biggest festival for Hindus where they celebrate when the moon is full in the Tamil month of Thai (last week of January or beginning of February). It is a colorful event, which held for 3 to 4 days. Hindus celebrate to show their appreciation to Lord Murugan, who was the ‘’God of war’’. It acknowledges that Lord Murugan defeated the evil forces.
Devotees will prepare themselves 48 days before the festival. The devotees purge themselves of all mental and physical impurities. During the preparation, they will only take one vegetarian meal per day and 24 hours before Thaipusam.
Devotees will prepare themselves by following strict purification austerities such as:
- Shaving of the head
- Transcendence of desire
- Sexual abstinence
- Bathing in cold water
- Sleeping on the floor
- Constant prayers
On the actual day of Thaipusam, all the devotees will prepare themselves spiritually with a last strict vegetarian diet and extensive prayer before performing the acts of thanksgiving. They believed when the mind is free of material worth and the body free from physical pleasures can a devotee undertake the sacred task without feeling any pain, such as carrying a kavadi and walk from one temple to another. Some devotees commit to an extreme sacrifice, which known as ‘Vel Kavadi’. Devotees pierce their bodies, cheeks, and tongues with vel skewers. There were also some devotees who did not commit to such extreme sacrifices as shown in the second picture below. The purpose of undertake such sacrifices are to get blessings from Lord Murugan on behalf of their loved ones or to balance their spiritual debt.
The festival of Thaipusam was brought to Malaysia in the 1800s when Indian immigrants started to work on the Malaysia rubber estates and government offices. It was first celebrate in Batu Caves by a small population of Indians, and it had increase to more than a million of Hindus gather in Batu Caves during Thaipusam in recent years. Besides than Hindus, other races and westerners could also be found at Batu Caves during the festival. The night before Thaipusam, Hindus will gather at the Sri Mahamariaman Temple along Jalan Tun HS Lee, which located at Chinatown/Petaling Street area. From there they will leave around midnight on a 15 kilometer (approximately 8 hour) walk towards the Batu Caves where they will arrive the next morning. Then they will climb 272 steps from the bottom to the top of Batu Caves to say prayer to Lord Murugan.
TagCourse would like to wish every students of Hindu faith a HAPPY THAIPUSAM!