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Thaipusam Festival 2011 of Murugan - Thaipooyam or Thai Poosam
Thaipusam, also known Thaipooyam or Thai Poosam, is a major festival of Hindus in South India. This festival is celebrated mostly by Tamil Hindus in India, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, Singapore, and South Africa. Thaipusam is celebrated in the full moon day of Tamil month of Thai which usually falls on January - February in English calendar. Like many other festivals of Hindus in India, Thaipusam also is a commemoration of the triumph of good over evil. The Mythology of Thaipusam is linked to Lord Subrahmanya or Lord Muruga, the elder son of Lord Siva and Goddess Parvathi. Subrahmanya is also known by other names such as Kartikeya, Sanmukha, Shadanana, Skanda and Guha. This year Thaipusam Festival is celebrated on 20th January 2011, Thursday.
Story of Thaipusam Festival
It is believed that on this day, Goddess Parvati presented a “Vel” (lance) to Lord Subrahmanya to conquer the demon army of Tarakasura and combat their evil deeds. The long going war between Devas and Asuras gave Devas heavy setback. The Devas were unable to resist the mighty Asura forces. In despair, they approached Shiva and requested to give them an able leader under whose heroic leadership they might obtain victory over the Asuras. Shiva granted their request by creating Subrahmanya, out of his own power. With the help of Divine lance presented by mother Parvathi little Subrahmanya defeated Asura king Tharakasura and gave Devas a big relief. Thaipusam celebration is to remember this auspicious day.
Rituals of Thaipusam – Kavadi
The main rituals of the Thaipusam festivals are “Kavadi” and piercing body parts with divine “Vel”. Devotees preparing for Thaipusam rituals take at least 41 days of severe penance. Celibacy, cleanliness of body soul are prime important during this period. The Kavadi bearer is supposed to take only pure vegetarian food and that should be once a day. Through-out the day he has to chant mantras of Subrahmanya whenever possible.
There are numerous types of Kavadi ranging from very simple to multiple body parts piercing complex Kavadi. The simplest Kavadi is a semicircular decorated canopy supported by a wooden rod that is carried on the shoulders, to the temple. Some have a small spear through their tongue, or a spear through the cheeks. The spear pierced through his tongue or cheeks reminds devotees about Lord Subrahmanya. It also prevents him from speaking and gives great power of endurance. Other types of Kavadi include hooks stuck into the back and either pulled by another walking behind or being hung from a decorated cart.
Lord Murugan Devotees prepare for the celebration by cleansing themselves through prayer and fasting. Kavadi-bearers have to perform elaborate ceremonies at the time of assuming the kavadi and at the time of offering it to Murugan. On the day of the festival, devotees will shave their heads and undertake a pilgrimage along a set route while engaging in various acts of devotion.
Thaipusam Festival in Murugan Temples
Thaipusam is celebrated in almost all Murgan temples across the world. Thaipusam festival celebrations in Palani Murugan Temple, Batu Caves Murugan Temple in Malaysia, Thiruchendur Murugan Temple, Swamimalai Murugan Temple, are quite famous. All the Arupadaiveedu or the six abodes of Lord Muruga celebrate the festival with much importance.
Find more information about Thaipusam festival celebrations and other rituals at Hindu Devotional Blog.