I was heading to Little India area at Serangoon Road in Singapore, for masala tea when I realized that today was the Thaipusam festival.
Thaipusam actually celebrates the birthday of the Hindu deity Subramaniam. On this occasion, Hindus show the sincerity of their faith. It is a time for making and fulfilling vows. Devotees pray for divine help and make vows. When their prayers are answered, they fulfil their vows. These devotees will participate in a procession which starts at the Sri Srinivasa Perumal Temple on Serangoon Road and ends at the Sri Thandayuthapani Temple on Tank Road. (2 hour walk- 4km) Female devotees usually carry a metal milk urn filled with milk and placed these urns on their heads throughout this walking procession. Men usually carry a kavadi, a cage like structure elaborately decorated with peacock feathers as well as images of hindu dieties. Sharp spikes are found in the lower section and are pierced into the skin of the kavadi carriers. Sometimes fruits are hung by hooks to the skins of carriers as well. You will observe that cheeks, tongue and face of the devotees are sometimes pierced with sharp objects.
The procession is a loud and colorful ceremony. You can hear drums, clapping and cheering throughout the procession. This, I believe, helps the devotees concentrate on their walk (barefooted as well). I noticed the participating devotees are accompanied by their family members and friends during the long walk.
I went to a Komala Villas, a famous Indian vegetarian restaurant and proceeded to order masala thosai, a pancake filled with curried potatoes. The pancake is about a foot long and comes with a curry sauce, a coconut and a tomato dip.
I also ordered masala tea. Served in a stainless steel cup and bowl, this tea is a black tea sweetened with condensed milk and spiced up with cinnamon and ginger. It is a really refreshing beverage. The entire meal costs about us$3. Yummy.