Thaipusam 2016

Thaipusam is an annual Hindu festival, celebrated in the honour of Lord Murugan (son of Shiva and Parvati, brother of Lord Ganesha).

Devotees give thanks and fulfil their vows through a procession. The most dedicated devotees carry Kavadi, a semi-circular steel frame, decorated with flowers and peacock feathers. The Kavadi can weigh as much as 40 kg and have spikes that pierce into the body. ’Kavadi’ aptly means ‘sacrifice at every step’ in Tamil.

In Singapore this thanksgiving festival is celebrated with a 4 km procession from the Sri Srinivasa Perumal Temple (SSPT) to the Sri Thendayuthapani Temple (STT). This year, around 20,000 people participated, 330 with Kavadis.

The first 14 photos are from SSPT, where the devotees were pierced and prepared for carrying the kavadis by flocks of friends and proud family members. The noise from drums and people corresponded to the vibrant atmosphere, visible in the photos.

The remaining photos are from STT, where the kavadis were dismounted after successful completion of the march. Here, relief and exhaustion permeated the air, and we saw several devotees faint during the hour-long process of removing the kavadis.

Thaipusam is an amazing experience—also for spectators—and I will be back next year.

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