Thaipusam is a Hindu festival celebrated mostly by the Tamil community. The colorful celebration is one of the important fairs and festivals in not just India but also countries like Malaysia, USA, Sri Lanka, Thailand and other countries where Tamil Community has major presence.
Thaipusam is celebrated each year on the full moon in the Tamil month of Thai which falls in the month of January/February of the English Calendar. The word Pusam, refers to a star that is at its highest position during the festival.
Thaipusam celebrates the birth anniversary of Lord Murugan, also referred as Subramanium, the youngest son of Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati. The festival also memorializes the mythological tale when Lord Murugan vanquishes the evil demon Soorapadman with a vel (lance). The Thaipusam festival is celebrated for ten days, starting the day of the full moon. Thousands of devotees gather in temples to prove their devotion to the Lord.
According to Skanda Puranam, the legend of Murugan, and Thirupugal are divine verses on Murugan, adhere to Shaivam principles. Murugan is the embodiment of Shiva’s light and wisdom. Devotees pray to him to overcome obstacles and vanquish evil. The motive of Thaipusam festival is to pray to God and receive his grace so that bad traits are destroyed.
Celebrations of Thaipusam
Thaipusam is a major celebration for the Tamil community. It is celebrated in many places in South India and South East Asia, wherever the Tamil community has their roots. Thaipusam is celebrated with great excitement in the town of Palani in Tamil Nadu. Thousands of devotees flock to the holy town, especially to the Temple of Palani during the annual Thaipusam Festival.
Devotees prepare for the festival by spiritual cleansing themselves through prayer and fasting for approximately 48 days. On the day of the festival, devotees shave their heads, and set out for the pilgrimage along a set route while engaging themselves in various acts of religious observance, especially carrying different types of kavadi (burdens). Some devotes simply carry a pot of milk as a kavadi, some carry burdens on the flesh by piercing the skin, tongue or cheeks with vel skewers. One of the hardest penance and one the most amazing practice in the festival is the vel Kavadi.
The vel kavadi is a portable altar about two meters tall, adorned with peacock feathers and attached to the devotee’s body through 108 vels pierced into the skin on the chest and at back. The devotees get into a trance like situation in devotion to the Lord. They do not feel any pain, nor do they bleed from their wounds and also even no scars are left behind. Fire walking and whipping are also practiced to prove the devotion by the pilgrims during the Thaipusam.
The Thaipusam festival is the celebration of the utmost devotion to the Lord Murugan. Attend the festival to revel in divine bliss.