Thaipusam - Devotion and Penance in Action
Observed in the Tamil month of Thai, between January 15 to February 15, the festival is considered special to worshippers. The festival is observed when the star Pusam rises with the full moon. The deity connected to the star is the planet Brihaspati that has a positive influence on worshippers and is considered among the luckiest of all planets.
People in India and in several countries in the world, including Malaysia, Singapore, USA, Fiji, Mauritius celebrates the festival. It is a time of fasting and penance for past sins. Worshippers believe through fasting they are feeding their souls rather than their bodies. Unlike other Indian festivals there are few food recipes associated with the festival.
On Thaipusam, devotees shave their heads which is considered an act of sacrifice and symbolising humility. Devotees undertake a pilgrimage to a temple where Thaipusam is being celebrated and perform acts of devotion and penance. One way devotees perform penance is by carrying kavadis or burdens.
A Kavadi can be a paal kudam which is a pot filled with milk carried over one’s head. Another common one is a bamboo structure formed like a peacock or chariot, ornamented with symbols for Murugan. During the weeks preceding the festival, kavadi carriers observe celibacy, take fresh foods, and think about the Deity. Another common act of penance includes walking on hot coals and wearing nail shoes. Fire walkers suffer no burns, and piercings do not bleed or leave scars which is considered a miracle.
Devote yourself to God this Thaipusam.