The word Thaipusam is a combination of the name of the month, Thai, and the name of a star, Pusam. This particular star is at its highest point during the festival. Thaipusam is celebrated on the full moon day in the Tamil month of “Thai”.
Thaipusam is a thanksgiving festival that involves asceticism and control over one’s senses. It is a day for devotees to celebrate the fulfillment of their vows.
In Singapore, this religious festival attracts thousands of Hindu devotees who fulfil their vows through a 4km walk from the Sri Srinivasa Perumal Temple (SSPT) to the Sri Thendayuthapani Temple (STT).
The main event of the day before Thaipusam is a chariot procession in which Sri Murugan leaves the Sri Thendayuthapani Temple for a day’s visit to His brother Sri Vinayagar at Layan Sithi Vinayagar Temple (Keong Saik Road).
One of the most important places where the chariot makes a stop is at Sri Mariamman Temple (South Bridge Road). Sri Murugan is said to greet the Goddess within, as She is a manifestation of Goddess Parvathi, His mother. The chariot continues to its destination at the Layan Sithi Vinayagar Temple where Sri Murugan is ceremonially carried from the chariot and installed inside the temple.
In the evening, the chariot with Sri Murugan returns back to the Thendayuthapani Temple and members of the Chettiar community carry kavadis and this is often referred to as “Chetty Poosam”.
Activities on the second day, start very early in the morning. Prayers are conducted and just after midnight, the first group of devotees carrying milk pot offerings leave for Sri Thendayuthapani Temple.
Other devotees carrying kavadis start their preparation and leave the temple soon after. There is a constant stream of devotees making their way with offerings until 7.00pm in the evening.
Thousands of devotees make their way through the prescribed route to the Sri Thendayuthapani Temple. On their arrival at the centre aisle of the main sanctum, they present their milk pots. Milk offered by devotees are collected and poured over the Vel. Devotees who complete their vows will receive sacred ash.