Thursday, January 24, 2008

Knitting the limes

PG18: This post should not been read by sensitive soul.

On my way back from giving back my camera to the Canon customer service (yeah, my camera died on me) and seeing an afternoon movie at VivoCity around 7:00 PM (yeah, one of the advantages of being unemployed), I was stopped by the largest demonstration I have seen so far in Singapore.

On the side of the busiest avenue in town, some barricades were risen up to prevent traffic from going over a small and tiny human walking demonstration with strange outfit and music instruments.

I learnt later on that Thaipusam was going on.

Thousand of people were walking along the road, singing and dancing, accompanying and supporting fellow Indians attached to metal instrument during their walk. On a closer look, I realized that they were all actually attached physically, by their own bare skin to semicircular heavy weight metal structures while walking bare foot on the hot asphalt.

Most of them had their cheeks transpierced from on side to the other by a long and sharp needle. Some, more tough I presume, had their tongue also taken from top to bottom by another one. None of the braves could talk, or complain during their walk. Drinking was difficult. A few did not have any heavy metallic structure on them, but all of them had hooks on their bare back skin with lemons attached to them for making the catch stronger and heavier.

The crow around the brave men was chanting and dancing helping them to swallow the physical pain they were enduring. I saw a man almost passing out by fatigue, pain or alcohol who knows. When encouraged and cheered the bravest of the brave were spinning on themselves making the entire structure pooling the skin more intensely. No blood was on the street, but pure pain was visible on each and every faces I looked at.

It was extremely impressive and intense to see a cohort of suffer walking by, supported by family member or other friends in the middle of Singapore. The singing, the music, the colorful Sari, the alcohol and other drugs were helping some fellow human carrying a painful instrument from one side of the city to the other in the name of Lord Murudan or Ganesha.


I quickly went back home and crawl for information on the internet on what was happening in front of my eyes few hours before and what I discover make me scared even more about my own condition.

The preparation of kavadis (semicircular metal and wood structures) starts approximately 7PM on the eve of Thaipusam at Sri Srinivasa Perumal Temple in Singapore.

Devotees of Lord Murudan (also known as Lord Subramamiam) believe that Thaipusam was given the vel (divine spear) by his mother Parvati to defeat Surapadman, a demonic character.

At the beginning, rituals at the Sri Srinivasa Perumal Temple consist of taking baths and making offerings to Lord Ganesha (the remover of Obstacles) before the walk of faith.

Lord Murugan is worshipped as the granter of wishes. For a favor asked or received, devotees fulfill their vows, by carrying pots of milk on their heads or kavadis in a 4.5 kilometer from Sri Srinivasa Perumal Temple on Serangoon Road to Sri Thendayuthapani on Tank Road.

That's when I became scared.

To all of you to whom I send my best wishes for the New Year, I will have to retract what I said to you, because if you actually ending up have a great year, full of fun and surprises, adventures and happiness, I will have, for the grant of my wish be part of the ceremony next year.

Sorry, but I am not going to do Thaipusam next year.

External Pictures.
Not for sensitive soul!