Q & A on Thaipusam

  • Why has HEB given a participation fee reduction by half? Has HEB been making a profit over the years?

During the feedback sessions, there were numerous requests from kavadi bearers to reduce the fee for participation. The cost of preparing a kavadi can be expensive and the kavadi bearers cited this and the high cost of kavadi transportation as reasons for their appeal to reduce participation fees. Despite making losses during Thaipusam over the last few years, the organisers are prepared to reduce the cost of participation for kavadi bearers. Out of the 10,000 plus devotees participating in Thaipusam only 250 are kavadi bearers.

  • What kind of losses has HEB been making during Thaipusam?

 Thaipusam Income & Expenses for the last 3 years is tabulated below.








Operating Income

118 110 113
Operating Expenses (140) (161)


Loss (22) (51)


  •   Why has it taken HEB so long to release its findings?

When HEB approached the authorities with concessions that may be considered for future Thaipusams (based on the feedback received), the Government agencies involved with the organisation of Thaipusam had to review the conduct of the festival overall. This took time and in between, there was an application by three Hindus to lift the ban on music during Thaipusam which was subsequently dismissed by the Singapore High Court.

  •  Why didn’t HEB persuade the Government to allow musical instruments to be played during the procession?

HEB takes a serious note of Government’s view that the foremost concern is to tackle disorderly behavior during Thaipusam – which undermines the sanctity of the festival. HEB has to balance between ensuring that the festival is conducted in a sanctified manner and at the same time, that it is safe and orderly. Arising from the views generated during the feedback sessions, HEB has requested the Government to consider introducing more music during the procession – emphasising the importance of music in this religious procession. The Police have agreed to allow more music whilst protecting the safety of both devotees and public and preserving law and order. There is now more music in the procession and HEB is responsible for ensuring that it is properly executed. HEB is pleased that the Government is taking steps to introduce more music and believes that this is a step in the right direction. HEB takes this responsibility of providing music at the LIVE and transmission music points seriously. HEB seeks the co-operation of its devotees to help ensure that the 2016 Thaipusam is safe and smooth.

  •  Why didn’t HEB do something to improve Thaipusam in previous years?

HEB has been making improvements to the conduct of Thaipusam all these years. Some of the improvements include providing more annanathanams (free meals) and drinks, providing more covered areas for Thaipusam preparation and more space for devotees. The festival in recent years is also more orderly and devotees are able to fulfill their vows quickly and comfortably. Despite having feedback channels, there were no substantive requests for significant changes to the conduct of Thaipusam over the last few years. The request for more music only came up as a spin off from an incident which happened at the 2015 Thaipusam. As a result of that incident, Minister K Shanmugam requested HEB to call for Thaipusam feedback sessions. HEB views the feedback sessions as highly beneficial to how future Thaipusams can be conducted and further improved.

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