A Different Thaipusam

Courtesy of Theeban Gunasagar, via Nathan Raj
Courtesy of Theeban Gunasagar, via Nathan Raj

Saw this image on my News Feed yesterday. I used to live in an apartment along the Thaipusam procession route, and as much as I spent many Thaipusam nights in sleepless wonder at the amount of celebratory cheers, when you see how the participants move tethered with their kavadis, earthen pots and other beautiful elaborate body piercings, you know the music is a compulsory part of the procession, in order to keep them going with such energy and love from one end of their voyage to the other.

This morning as we were driving through the Selegie/Middle Road junction and watching some kavadi carriers walk by, I told the Wife (who is also very familiar with the celebratory sounds of the procession) that instruments were no longer allowed. She didn’t believe me.

To prove my point, I rolled down the car window. Save for the low buzz of traffic, silence.

It feels like every day, I see and hear things happening in our home that takes a little bit more of our soul away from us. No wonder we’re not happy. No wonder we struggle with identity. No wonder we’re no longer one united people.

More references:

Hindu Endowments Board (HEB) Thaipusam 2014 Guidelines (note Section B, point 3)

A 1989 Straits Times newspaper clipping about enforcement of the Thaipusam “no music” rule

A 2011 TOC article on the explanation of HEB’s Thaipusam guidelines offered by the government

A 2011 blog post on Singapore 2025 with more details on how this rule came about and ground reactions to its enforcement

Alfian Sa’at weighs in on FB, with a lively discussion in comments to boot

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