Thaipuisam Festival

A Hindu festival celebrated primarily by the Tamil community where the devotees show gratitude to Lord Murugan.

WORDS BY- SANGEETA S

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An important festival of the Tamil Community Thaipuisam is celebrated not only in India but across the globe in countries where ever there is strong Tamil presence. Countries like Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Thailand, Singapore, South Africa, Canada etc. also celebrate this festival with full fervor and enthusiasm. Many countries have even declared this as national holiday.
The festival is celebrated in the Tamil month of ‘Thai’ on full moon day and is dedicated to Lord Murugan. ‘Thai’ Tamil month falls during January or February. During this festival a particular star called ‘Pusam’ is at its highest point. And so the name of the festival comes from the combination of month (Thai) and star (Pusam); Thai and pusam combined makes it Thaipusam. It is believed that it is the occasion when Parvati gave Murugan a Vel so he could conquer the demon Soorapadman.
Murgun, son of Shiva is showered with gifts and gratitude during this festival. Yellow is Lord’s favourite colour and therefore fruits and flowers of yellow colour are offered and even yellow clothes are worn by the devotees. Fruits, milk and flowers are carried as tribute to the lord. Bodies are pierced and even Kavadis are carried.

The faith is such that people go to extreme lengths to please Lord Murugan. People pierce their bodies and faces with hooks, swords and skewers. It is a unique phenomenon where you can see that in spite of tongues, cheeks and faces pierced with sharp objects, people don’t bleed much. They don’t even complain of pain. In fact even the wounds heal fast without leaving any scars. People even pull heavy chariots with metal hooks pierced in the back. The faith is amazing and worth watching though people with weak hearts may find the scene unnerving.
Kavadis are also attached to the bodies with sharp skewers which are carried all through the procession till they reach the worship area. Thousand of devotees join the procession with loud chants and drum all through the way. People carry fruits, honey, milk etc. to various Murugan temples to offer.
The passion and faith is such that people even walk on burning coals which are laid out for people to walk over.

The miracle of faith is quiet evident here when people walk on these burning coals bare foot and come out unharmed.
However, before getting pierced the devotee gets into trance and only when the devotee is fully entranced that the piercing is done. Also, lot of preparation has to be done before anybody gets this piercing done.
Some even fast for 48 days and follow a code of conduct so that they get prepared mentally as well as physically. After piercing the devotee is helped by others to complete the procession.
The rituals are done if a wish has been fulfilled. It is not necessary that pain should be a part of the vow you take to do if your prayers get answered. But often devotees make such promises which involve giving pain to themselves.
Lot of festivities take place after the procession reaches its destination. The feasting continues till late in the night.

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