When is Thaipusam in 2023?
The Thaipusam festival is observed annually on the full moon day in the Tamil month of Thai. This year, it falls on a Sunday, 5 February 2023.
Although it is not designated as an official public holiday, Thaipusam is widely celebrated in Singapore. This year, the festival will feature the traditional foot procession and kavadi rituals, marking their return after being absent due to the pandemic.
Things to do during Thaipusam 2023 in Singapore
Thaipusam can be celebrated in several ways, depending on local traditions and customs. This Thaipusam guide is ideal for both religious participants and the general public in Singapore:
Join the grand foot procession at Little India
In Singapore, the celebration of the Thaipusam festival is marked by a 4 km long foot procession that begins in Little India.
Devotees participating in the procession walk from the Sri Srinivasa Perumal Temple to the Sri Thendayuthapani Temple to offer their offerings to Lord Sri Murugan. The atmosphere is enlivened by Bhajan singers performing devotional songs.
The procession is scheduled to start on 4 February 2023 at 11:30pm from the Sri Srinivasa Perumal Temple and conclude on 5 February 2023 at 11:00pm at the Sri Thendayuthapani Temple.
The public is invited to watch the procession along the 4 km route while adhering to traffic regulations.
Carrying Paal Kudam
The Paal Kudam is a traditional offering made during the Thaipusam festival, in honor of Lord Sri Murugan. This offering, which involves carrying a pot of milk, is a popular aspect of the festival and is highly regarded by devotees.
The term “Paal Kudam” is a combination of “Paal,” meaning milk, and “Kudam,” a pot-like vessel. During Thaipusam, women devotees carry a pot of milk on their heads as they participate in the foot procession. Upon reaching the temple of Lord Murugan, the milk is poured over his statue as an offering of devotion.
Devotees who wish to participate in the Paal Kudam ritual can register via this link.
Be awed by Kavadis
The Kavadi is a wooden structure or physical burden carried by devotees during the Thaipusam festival, as a symbol of their devotion to Lord Sri Murugan. It is beautifully adorned with flowers, peacock feathers, and other offerings.
In preparation for the festival, Kavadi bearers engage in a strict regimen of fasting and a vegetarian diet for 48 days leading up to the event. Additionally, a 24-hour fast is required on the eve of the festival.
Carrying a kavadi is considered a demonstration of devotion and faith and serves as a form of penance. During the kavadi ritual, some devotees may pierce their bodies with hooks or skewers to symbolise the release of worldly desires and attachments. The kavadi carrying is a highlight of the Thaipusam festival, attracting many devotees and tourists.
Breaking the coconut
During Thaipusam, a significant event that takes place is the breaking of coconuts during the foot procession and at the temple grounds as a symbol of purification and humility after gaining wisdom.
This ritual is participated not only by the devotees but also by those who are not Hindu/Tamil as a form of gratitude for their prayers being answered by Lord Murugan.
Fasting and singing devotional songs
Many devotees observe a fast leading up to Thaipusam as a form of spiritual purification and preparation for the festival.
On the other hand, devotional songs and hymns, called Bhajans, are also sung during Thaipusam to evoke a spiritual atmosphere and to celebrate the festival, along with traditional dances and music.
Visit the Sri Mariamman Temple
The Sri Mariamman Temple, a historic Hindu temple, is situated in the bustling central business district of Singapore. It holds the distinction of being the oldest Hindu temple in the country, having its roots dating back to 1827.
The temple is devoted to Mariamman, known as the mother of health and prosperity. The temple boasts eye-catching and colorful architecture, featuring intricate carvings and a towering gopuram.
At the temple, visitors can observe Hindu rituals and ceremonies while admiring the stunning sculptures and paintings that decorate its walls and ceilings. During major Hindu festivals like Thaipusam, the temple transforms into a hub of activity, drawing in devotees from across the island.
Despite its central location, the temple provides a tranquil and peaceful atmosphere, serving as a symbol of the Hindu community’s rich cultural heritage in Singapore.