The Hindu festival, ThaiPusam, took place in Singapore this weekend. One of the world’s most gruesome festivals, it is held every January and celebrated mostly by the Tamil community. One of the largest celebrations around the world is in Singapore. I even found footage on Youtube of ThaiPusam taken in 1959, possibly in Singapore.
We have been to watch the procession every year we have been here. ThaiPusam is a visual spectacle and is one of the most bizarre festivals I have ever been to.
Please do not use photos of ThaiPusam without permission.
For ThaiPusam, devotees offer prayers either by piercing their bodies with skewers, pulling a chariot or carrying Kadavis (which weigh up to 30kg) from Sri Srinivasa Perumal temple in Little India to Sri Laya Sithi Vinayagar temple on River Valley Road, so very near our condo. Kadavi bearers prepare over a month before the festival by prayer, fasting, remaining celibate, and eating specially prepared vegetarian food.
Kadavi bearers are surrounded by their friends and family who urge them on, beating drums and chanting, dousing their feet, hot from walking on the tarmac, with water, or offering them a seat to rest. One man we saw was walking the 4.2km route on platforms of nails, another had a huge spear through his cheeks and yet another had his tongue pierced so he couldn’t close his mouth. For one man carrying his Kadavi became too much and he had collapsed on the ground. His followers carefully extracting skewer after skewer from his exhausted body. It must take the most mental and physical energy imaginable.
ThaiPusam is fascinating and flamboyant and strangely enough, fun (even for kids) but it’s definitely not for the squeamish.
Where to watch: Little India is swamped with people, so a better place is by the corner of Selegie Road and Middle Road. Another is by the green area on a corner of Penang Road near Dhoby Ghaut.