Have you seen one of the festivals where people carry milk pots and there are spikes pierced through their bodies? Yup, It’s called Thaipusam, a day of celebration for the God of War, Lord Murugan after his vanquishing against the evil demon according to Hindu scriptures. The name of Thaipusam comes from a combination of the word Thai, name of the month in Tamil calendar and Pusam meaning a star in Hindu astrology – it happens on a full moon day in the month of Thai.
Here are interesting facts about Thaipusam, as one important festival in Malaysia. Let’s go.
Thaipusam, a Huge Festive
No matter if it is held on the Weekday or weekend, the shrines around Malaysia will be filled with Hindu’s devotees especially at the Batu Cave as it is dedicated to Lord Murugan. There are three other shrines that are important for Thaipusam – Tanneermalai Temple in Penang, Kallumalai Temple in Ipoh and Sannasimalai Temple in Melaka. During this festival, some of the roads will be closed for the parade to the temple. Thaipusam is considered a huge festival in Malaysia and is a public holiday so that the devotees are even more ready for their rituals like cleansing their body through fasting, abstinence and also have vegetarian diets at certain times – normally this preparation will take 48 days before the two-day Thaipusam.
Kavadi Attam, The Sacrifice Ceremony
Kavadi Attam is a ceremonial act of devotional sacrifice through dance, food offerings, and bodily self-mortification in honour of Lord Murugan. They will decorate Kavadi, a structure made with flowers and peacock feathers to bear the images of several deities like the most popular one, Lord Murugan. It is a physical burden which is carried by the devotees to implore Lord Murugan for spiritual assistance and healing, but not all will carry this because it is a real ritual, not a show. On that day, the devotees will carry Kavadi and dance through the crowd with the piercing, some will shave their head and the simplest way is to walk while carrying a pot of milk on their head.
Coconut Smash as The Offering
Have you ever wondered why they smash coconuts during Thaipusam? It’s actually an auspicious fruit suitable to be presented to God. For the Hindu, coconut is a holy fruit and they believed it is the purest form of offering. There are reasons why coconut is used, the unique composition of the outer shell which is hard to represent the physical of man, the white fruit inside represent the psychological and the sweet water which untouched represent the spiritual. It also symbolises the breaking of the ego to reveal the purity inside.
Yellow is a Dress Code
Have you noticed that many Hindus wear the colour of yellow during Thaipusam? Yellow is a favourite colour of the Lord Murugan and that’s why the statue in Batu Caves is yellow gold. Yellow is indeed associated with a new beginning, peace and happiness. And of course, you can join the celebration and take great photos but please respect the devotees during the ceremonies. Don’t forget to wear something yellow and we wish our Hindu friends Happy Thaipusam and hope everyone is in the pink of health during this situation, stay safe and stay home.