Getting to experience different cultures and their festivals is always a privilege when living overseas. Today, I experienced what is probably the most intense, bizarre, and fascinating festival I will see in for many years to come. Thaipusam is highly symbolic Hindu festival celebrated by Singapore’s Tamil community. It is an annual procession by Hindu devotees seeking blessings, fulfilling vows and offering thanks. It is celebrated in honour of Lord Subrahmanya (also known as Lord Murugan), who represents virtue, youth and power to Hindus and is the destroyer of evil. Thaipusam is held during the full moon in the 10th Tamil month, called Thai, which falls on various dates depending on the year.
Last year, I only witnessed Thaipusam from afar on my walk to school. I live next Little India, where the procession starts, and was blown away when I saw the individuals making their pilgrimage. I swore that I would go and see it from the beginning the following year, and was not disappointed by making the time for this experience. I arose at 3:00 a.m. and shot for about 2 hours with my pals Shaun and Jay, who equally enjoy witnessing and photographing wild human rituals.
Walking around the temples and getting to photograph the festival was really out of this world. You would see men and women working themselves into a trance before piercing themselves without showing any sign of pain or discomfort. It really is incredible what the human mind can do. I really appreciated how open and welcoming everyone was in the temple with us taking photos; religious rituals are deeply personal and shouldn’t have to be shared with anyone. Every person who I photographed welcomed me with a smile on their face.
Along with the photos I took this morning, I also made a short 1 minute video giving you a glimpse of what I saw during my time in the temple. I was really focused on taking pictures this time around, but plan to return next year and make a short film about the Thaipusam in Singapore.
For some reason, I can’t embed my Flickr slideshow into this blog, so if you just click the photo below, it will take you to the slideshow with all of my photos from this morning. I hope seeing these photos gives you a glimpse into an element of Singapore that not many expats or Singaporeans know about. This country is diverse in so many ways, and I love discovering all of it. Until next time!