The Great Escape

Rediscovering life in Palawan Philippines

Photos from the Shoebox: Thaipusam Festival, Singapore 1991

If you had a 35mm camera you probably have a shoebox full of pictures that you never got around to sorting and putting in an album. In this series “Photos from the Shoebox” I take them out of the closest and shine light on them once more.

You can’t live life without feeling some pain. It’s January in Singapore and thousands of devotees have come together to participate in the Hindu Festival of Thaipusam. Based on the legend of Lord Murugan, who slayed demons causing chaos on earth, the festival is a celebration of good over evil.

The walk of faith

Devotees prepare one month ahead by purifying their minds and bodies by eating a strict vegetarian diet and abstaining from sexual pleasures. Then on the day of the festival hundreds will be pierced with hooks, skewers or lances. Men will carry heavy structures called Kavadis while women and youth take part by carrying milk pots as offerings. Some will pierce their tongues.

Cleansing the soul through physical suffering

Some devotees pull chariots with hooks pierced in their backs. They put themselves into a trance like state which stops them from feeling pain.

The ultimate show of devotion

Some devotees carry spiked Kavadis that can reach three to four metres in height, and weigh at least 30kgs. They are decorated with peacock feathers and flowers.

Full moon festival

It’s a festival of blessings, fulfilling vows and offering thanks. Participants join the pilgrimage which starts at the Sri Srinivasa Perumal Temple and stretches over 4 km to the Sri Thendayuthapani Temple.

Hindu Temple

It’s not an easy festival to watch especially if you’re the least bit squeamish but it certainly shows how far one will go to express their devotion and faith. The event is held on the day of the full moon in the Tamil month of Thai. This year the festival falls on February 3, 2015.

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5 thoughts on “Photos from the Shoebox: Thaipusam Festival, Singapore 1991

  1. Oh, the remarks I could make on this one, but being a ‘sweet little Orplekeeper’, I’ll keep my thoughts to myself … Dr. Phil, where are you? LOL 🙂 And you are right, ‘Ouch’ is very much the understatement.

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