Singapore is indeed an island filled with many races and cultures.
We celebrate many different kinds of holidays and traditions.
Here, in Chinatown where my atelier, HAYDEN, is based;
decorations of bright red lanterns stringed together to usher in the Lunar New Year of the Water Snake!
This is the most popular lunar festival celebrated by Chinese people all around the globe! We will celebrate the Lunar New Year on 10 & 11 February 2013.
But on the other side of Singapore, at the Sri Srinivasa Perumal Temple in Little India, Serangoon Road, the preparations for Thaipusam have began!
Thaipusam takes place on the full moon during the 10th Tamil month, called Thai, the date varies each year; this year it takes place on 27 January, this comin Sunday.
Thaipusam (Tamil: தைப்பூசம், Taippūcam ) is observed on the full moon day of the Tamil month Thai to make offerings to Lord Muruga.
Thaipusam is a religious celebration practised by Tamil Hindu communities around the world.
It commemorates the victory of the god Murugan over a demon, but is also an opportunity for people to show their devotion to this deity by performing a task in his name.
What this task should be is open to interpretation, and while some devotees simply make offerings at temples others take it to the extreme by piercing their flesh with metal hooks and skewers.
The most spectacular form of this self-mortification is carrying a kavadi – an ornately decorated metal cage pierced through the carrier’s body.
Thaipusam is also a time of spiritual cleansing and participants may fast, pray and shave their head before the event.
The festival is always a visual spectacle – very colourful and joyous, celebrated by young and old and even the Chinese! Often bringing traffic in the city centre to a standstill, with a colourful procession full of chanting and dizzying rhythms of Indian drums!
The preparations for Thaipusam begin at the Sri Srinivasa Perumal Temple in Little India at Serangoon Road.
Here, the kavadis are assembled, piercings are made and prayers are said before devotees begin the 4.5-kilometre Thaipusam procession through central Singapore to the Sri Thendayuthapani Temple.
In the morning, the best place to see Thaipusam is the Sri Srinivasa Perumal Temple. If it is after noon, the best place would be the Sri Thendayuthapani Temple (Chettiar Temple) which serves as the festival’s end point.
Here, devotees remove their kavadi and piercings then refuel their bodies with a free vegetarian meal. The temple is about a 10-minute walk from Clarke Quay MRT station.
As there is no set time to begin the Thaipusam procession (and many devotees are not able to start until the end of the work day), new kavadi carriers and devotees arrive at the Sri Thendayuthapani Temple throughout the afternoon and into the night.
The largest Thaipusam celebrations take place in India, particularly the southern states of Tamil Nadu and Kerala. Thaipusam is also celebrated in Malaysia where it is a public holiday and there is a spectacular turn-out at the Batu Caves near Kuala Lumpur.