First Hour of Thaipusam
The first hour of Thaipusam saw thousands gathered along Serangoon Road to welcome the first devotees leaving the starting point at the Sri Srinivasa Perumal Temple. Thaipusam this year was a little special, for it was the first time in four decades that live music was allowed at the procession. The lifting of the ban on live music – following feedback with representatives from the Hindu – certainly made for a boisterous Thaipusam. Musical instruments like the Nadhaswaram, an Indian clarinet, and the Thavil, a barrel-shaped drum, were allowed in the temples while music groups were also allowed to perform at designated live music points along the route from Serangoon Road to the end point of Sri Thendayuthapani Temple at Tank Road.
A major festival for the Hindu community, Thaipusam is celebrated on a large scale in Malaysia and Singapore. A key highlight here is a 4km long foot procession where devotees either carry milk pots with milk offerings or don two-metre-high steel or wood kavadis with body piercings.
People were at full force right from the first hour. From the hundreds of volunteers who distributed refreshments along the route, to the 20,000 devotees who participated in the procession and to the bystanders who cheered on the 330 kavadi bearers – Thaipusam was especially vibrant this year.